The Outshot

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: Jim Rash, Bob Saget, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jessica St. Clair
Guests: 
Lennon Parham
Guests: 
Jim Rash
Guests: 
Bob Saget
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.

Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham of Playing House: Improv in the Writers' Room, Showing Real Friendships on TV, and 'Girl Porn'

Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham play best friends on TV, and if their on-screen chemistry seems real, it is. They met doing improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and have been writing partners ever since. They co-created and star in Playing House, a new comedy about female friendship that's more reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel than it is Carrie Bradshaw's gang.

Playing House follows Emma and Maggie, two women who have been friends forever. Maggie stayed in their hometown, got married, and is expecting a baby. Emma has been professionally ambitious, closing business deals in Shanghai, and hasn't been back to visit for what must be years.

Parham and St. Clair join us to talk about the marathon improv sessions that produce the show's jokes, the designer home "girl porn" that provides contrast to their characters' weirdness, and their real-life friendship.

Playing House airs on the USA network Tuesday nights at 10/9c.

Bonus audio: Parham and St. Clair talk about their beginnings at the UCB.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Zombie Dice and Hitman Go

Whether you're looking to zombie-fy yourself, or get absorbed into the world of a contract killer, Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder's got just the game for you. He's the host of the Gweek podcast, and he drops by to suggest a couple of his favorite new games. He recommends checking out the multi-player Zombie Dice to collect brains and avoid shotgun blasts to the head. If you prefer a game you can play solo, he suggests the strategy-based (and bloodless) game for iOS, Hitman Go.

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The Part: Bob Saget on 'Full House'

When Bob Saget was in his twenties, he had a lot of plates spinning. He tried film school (and dropped out after just a few days). He performed stand up. He warmed up sitcom audiences. He appeared in a Richard Pryor movie. He even worked for a few months as a morning talk show host, before he was told he was "too hot for TV."

But the part that changed everything wasn't controversial, or crazy. It was playing the straight man, on a sitcom aimed at families.

And despite the schmaltzy moments and broad jokes aimed at kids, Saget is proud of his role as widower and family man Danny Tanner on Full House. He'll tell us why.

Saget's new memoir is Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. It's very personal and sweet and also sometimes vulgar, which is pretty much exactly what you might expect. He's also touring his new stand up show. You can find details on his website.

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Jim Rash on Being "TV Ugly", Awkward Dad Talks, and Writing with Nat Faxon

Jim Rash has a lot of irons in the fire. He's a regular on NBC's Community and hosts the Sundance Channel series The Writers' Room. When Rash isn't on-screen, he's writing and directing. With his writing partner Nat Faxon, he wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Descendants. The pair also wrote and directed last year's coming-of-age comedy The Way, Way Back, which drew on some of Rash's childhood experiences.

Rash joins us this week to talk about the awkward-yet-motivational summer talks he had with his dad and stepdad as a teenager, exploring writing techniques with TV showrunners on The Writers' Room, and writing for Community during Dan Harmon's absence.

Community airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on NBC.
The Writers' Room airs Friday nights at 9/8c on on the Sundance Channel.

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The Outshot: Wet Hot American Summer

Wanna be pals with Jesse? Here's the litmus test.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bootsy Collins, Oliver Wang on Al Green

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Ahh...The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! Bootsy Collins Pushes James Brown's Buttons and Gets Wild with George Clinton's P-Funk

Bootsy Collins is a legend in the world of funk. He's a bassist who came to his instrument by happenstance and fell in love. He was only in his teens when he was discovered and hired by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, to be part of his backing band, The J.B.'s. Bootsy went on to play with another notoriously inventive and pioneering funk artist, George Clinton, as part of Funkadelic and Parliament.

He continued the funk with Bootsy's Rubber Band and a number of other musical collaborations. His most recent album is Tha Funk Capitol Of The World, and he currently teaches bass at his own Funk University. He's also playing a couple of festivals this spring and summer.

Bootsy talks to us about being on the forefront of funk, playing with James Brown, doing LSD on stage, quitting and/or being fired from The JB's, pushing the boundaries of black popular music with George Clinton, and his own amazing solo career.

He and Jesse spoke in 2011. Find an extended version of that original conversation here.

The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some all-time favorite movies from our pals at The Dissolve. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps 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.

Canonball with Oliver Wang: Al Green’s I’m Still In Love With You

In Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music. We're joined by professor and music writer Oliver Wang to talk about an Al Green album that deserves your attention. No... it's not Green's chart-topper, Let's Stay Together. Wang says that it was Al Green's followup to that album that really rattled him to his core.

Wang talks to us about 1973's I'm Still in Love with You, the record that created a new kind of soul music. Green's beautiful, if flawed voice, was merged with Willie Mitchell's innovative rhythm section and a new sound emerged.

You can find Oliver Wang's thoughts on soul rarities and more on his blog, Soul Sides.

The Outshot: Orson Welles's F for Fake

Jesse recommends Orson Welles' final masterwork, F for Fake. Part documentary, part film essay, it features tricks and truths layered atop each other, creating a mesmerizing narrative.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Steve Coogan & Kevin Kerrane

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Steve Coogan
Guests: 
Kevin Kerrane
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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.


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Steve Coogan: "Dumping My Dysfunction" into Alan Partridge and Seeking Humanity in Comedy

The English actor, comedian and writer Steve Coogan started out as a brilliant impressionist. He was beloved by audiences for his pitch-perfect impressions, and put his voice talent to good use on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image. But Coogan wanted more for himself, and began developing his own characters. While working on the radio current affairs parody On The Hour with Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris, he created his most enduring character to date -- the awkward, know-nothing sports desk reporter, Alan Partridge.

Coogan has now spent two decades off and on with Alan Partridge, as he's been fleshed out and moved from radio to television and back again. Alan has become a very important part of his life, although as Coogan says, Alan is "like a relative that you’re very fond of but you only want to see at Christmas and holidays. You don’t want to live with them." He's now brought the character to the big screen, with Alan as a regional radio deejay who accidentally gets roped into a hostage situation at his station.

Coogan has also acted in a number of movies and television shows in England and abroad, including The Trip, Night at the Museum, Tropic Thunder and 24 Hour Party People. He also recently co-wrote, produced and starred in the drama Philomena, which garnered several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

He joins us this week to talk about his early days as an impressionist, the increasing emotional complexity and dynamism of his character Alan Partridge, and seeking humanity in his comedy.

Alan Partridge is now in theaters and on VOD. Philomena is out on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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Andrew Noz on All-Time Favorite Tracks: Organized Konfusion and Ice-T

Hip hop critic Andrew Noz digs way back in the catalogs of past Bullseye guests Pharoahe Monch and Ice-T to recommend some of his favorite tracks.

He suggests taking a listen to the amazing technical performances in Organized Konfusion's "Bring It On", and revisiting a poetic early track from Ice-T, "High Rollers".

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game and blogs at Cocaine Blunts. You can also find him on Tumblr.

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Photo by Zac Wolf

Hari Kondabolu Asks, What Happened to Weezer?

Weezer’s first album came out TWENTY years ago. The comedian Hari Kondabolu has been a fan since the beginning.

Hari's new stand up comedy album is called Waiting for 2042.

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"Sinister" Dick Kinsella

Who Won? Who Lost? Who Cares? It's All in How You Play the Game: Kevin Kerrane on the World of Baseball Scouting

Over thirty years ago, in 1980, Kevin Kerrane entered a world of unusual characters. "Jocko" Collins, "Sinister" Dick Kinsella, Cy Slapnicka. They were baseball scouts -- men who drove from game to game and town to town looking for fresh and undiscovered talent. They watched the players intently, but they didn't care who won or who lost. They were looking to see how an individual player runs, walks, and throws, and picturing how that talent might parlay to the major leagues. Kerrane renders these men and their stories in vivid detail in his classic history of baseball scouting, Dollar Sign on the Muscle.

The book fell out of print over the years, so Kerrane went back into the field in 2013 to provide a look at scouting in its current iteration.

Kerrane talks to us about some of the legendary scouts, the particular language and vernacular of the baseball scout, and the balance between old-school qualitative and new-school quantitative analysis of players.

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The Outshot: Owney, a Very Special Dog

Jesse shares his love for Owney, the Mascot of the Railway Mail Service.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jason Schwartzman & Russell Simmons

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jason Schwartzman
Guests: 
Russell Simmons
Guests: 
Michael Pena
Guests: 
Todd VanDerWerff

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.


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Jason Schwartzman: Advice from Bill Murray, Dealing with Loss, and His Love for "Bored to Death"

As Jason Schwartzman tells it, he got into acting by accident. He was a teenager, and a drummer in a band. He had no particular cinematic aspirations when he was asked to audition for the role of prep student Max Fischer in Wes Anderson's second feature film, Rushmore. But he went in to read for the role, and you can guess what happened next.

Schwartzman has popped up in almost every film directed by Anderson since then, and they co-wrote The Darjeeling Limited with Schwartzman's cousin Roman Coppola. He's also starred in the wonderful and weird HBO series Bored to Death, about a decidedly amateur private detective, and been in movies like I Heart Huckabees and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Most recently, he appears in Wes Anderson's newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. He also co-created the web series Mozart in the Jungle, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal.

Schwartzman sits down with us to talk about his acting lessons from Bill Murray and Wes Anderson on the set of Rushmore, dealing with death and loss on- and off-screen, and working on Bored to Death, the project that made him excited to get up every morning (even when it'd been a very late night).

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Spring TV Recommendations: Silicon Valley and The Americans

It's spring premiere season, and there's a lot of great TV to choose from. You probably already have your DVRs set for Mad Men and Game of Thrones, but there's a couple of other shows you shouldn't miss.

The AV Club’s TV editor Todd VanDerWerff joins us to share his favorite shows airing right now -- Mike Judge's new HBO comedy Silicon Valley, and the consistently excellent series about Soviets, The Americans.

Silicon Valley airs Sunday nights at 10pm on HBO.
The Americans airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FX.

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The Part: Michael Peña on the role that changed everything

It's time for a new series on Bullseye. Becoming an actor isn't easy. Getting cast in your first role is a huge challenge. But even then, it’s sometimes YEARS before actors land a role that get them noticed. It's The Part.

Michael Peña stars in a new biopic about the labor organizer Cesar Chavez. It portrays Chavez as a civil rights activist and organizer who's balancing those jobs with the responsibilities he has at home, and it's a weighty role.

Peña has been acting in movies for two decades now. For a long time, even if the casting directors liked his performances, he was only offered small roles. Gang member #1. Cop #3. They were characters with no backstory, narrow emotional range, and usually just a couple of lines.

That changed when he was cast in Crash, which went on to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Peña shares a few of the emotionally-charged scenes from the role that changed everything.

Peña's new movie Cesar Chavez is in theaters now.

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Slowing Down "Rush": Russell Simmons on Building Hip Hop, Authenticity, and Finding Stillness

Russell Simmons is one of the few people that can honestly say he helped build hip hop. He was an entrepreneur early on, promoting parties and hustling fake cocaine when he was still a college student in the late 1970s. He was there one night at the Charles Gallery, when the headliner DJ Easy G brought on a local rapper, and Simmons felt Eddie Cheeba work the crowd into a frenzy.

It was his first real introduction to hip hop, and he could see that it would be more than just a passing fad. He went on to co-found the music label Def Jam Recordings with Rick Rubin and build a roster of hugely successful hip hop artists, starting with a teenage LL Cool J and the punk rock-turned-hip hop group The Beastie Boys. Simmons worked hard to build sustainable brands for his artists, and took pride in their authenticity. And he wasn't content to focus on music -- his ambition led him to create an empire, expanding into fashion, television, film, journalism, finance, and philanthropy.

Simmons' abundance of energy helped earn him the nickname "Rush", but he says he owes much of his success to inner tranquility and stillness. He's practiced yoga and meditation for over fifteen years, and in his new book, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple, Simmons seeks to "demystify" meditation for the average person, and explain its link to personal and professional growth.

He joins us to talk about the pivotal moment that he heard Eddie Cheeba and found himself sold on hip hop, building Def Jam, leaving drugs behind for yoga and meditation and finding inner stillness.

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The Outshot: Louis Jordan and the Origins of Rock and Roll

Everyone knows that rock music came from the blues, right? Well, that's definitely part of the story. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Jesse shares his love for Louis Jordan, the "Grandfather of Rock 'n' Roll".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RuPaul and Terry Crews

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
RuPaul
Guests: 
Terry Crews
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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.


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RuPaul on the Many Shades of Drag

Before he was the world's most famous drag queen, RuPaul was just a kid growing up in San Diego, California. But he knew something was different about him. He noticed things that other people didn't. He found joy in the irreverence of characters like Bugs Bunny, and TV shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus. When he was still in his teens, he packed his bags and followed his sister to Atlanta. He attended performing arts high school, and a brief stint as a car salesman, he started performing with a couple of underground bands. They were searching for a way to be subversive, and decided to perform in drag. RuPaul found that something clicked -- both for himself, and for the audience.

He spent years performing and appearing on public access TV, but he became an international star with his 1992 hit single, "Supermodel".

One of his most recent projects is RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality competition series, featuring RuPaul as host and mentor to the contestants as they participate challenges in search for America's next drag superstar. Drag Race is now in its sixth season on LOGO TV.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends New Books: Cryonics and Gangsters

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two new books that recently hit the shelves.

Her first recommendation is a memoir about a TV repairman's obsession with immortality that leads to his professional pursuit of cryonics -- the art of freezing people. It's called Freezing People Is (Not) Easy: My Adventures in Cryonics by Bob Nelson, Kenneth Bly and Sally Magana.

Her second recommendation is a twining novel about the legendary gangster Meyer Lansky and a murder investigation in Israel, called Jacket Copy.

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My Brother My Brother and Me Solve Your Cultural Quandaries

The hosts of the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me won't hesitate to give their advice, though they don't always suggest you follow it.

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of our listeners' cultural quandaries. Here are their takes on dealing with your parents' (terrible) TV recommendations, what it means to hog a game at a barcade, and how comedians should respond to hecklers in the crowd.

If you’ve still got 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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Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews on Art, Athletics, and Comedy

Terry Crews has taken a pretty unconventional path. He played football in college, but he didn't go on scholarship, and joined the team as a walk on. He played in the NFL for years as a linebacker with the Rams and the Chargers, but when he was done, he didn't become a sports commentator.

Instead, Crews went back to one of his first loves -- the arts. And while he continues his devotion to his workout regimen, he now uses his physicality in his work as an actor. He's worked steadily in a string of movies like The Longest Yard and The Expendables, and adds a tough-but-caring element to his characters in TV shows like Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

You can see him now as an essential part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's ensemble as the police detective and family man, Sergeant Terry Jeffords. The show's finale airs tonight, Tuesday March 25th on FOX.

Crews is also the author of a new memoir out in May, called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man - or Just Live with One.

This week, Crews tells us about growing up in Flint, Michigan, discovering his love of both art and physical fitness, the difficulty of ending an NFL career, and the joys of working on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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The Outshot: Nas' Illmatic

Jesse shares the greatest hip-hop album ever recorded, Nas' Illmatic. A bold claim? Yes. A true claim? Also yes.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Outshot on The Cold Open

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Jesse describes the perfect cold open -- and it happens to be from season 2, episode 9 of NewsRadio.

BULLSEYE: The Outshot, Week of January 3rd, 2012

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Jesse's pick for this week, the anthem "F--- 'Em" from Bay Area rapper .

Outshot: E-40 - F*** 'Em by Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

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