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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jessica Walter, "Collision Low Crossers" and Annie Hart

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jessica Walter
Guests: 
Nicholas Dawidoff
Guests: 
Annie Hart
Guests: 
Cameron Esposito
Guests: 
Ricky Carmona

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Jessica Walter Talks about Vulgar Lines on "Archer", Love for Lucille Bluth and Showbiz Secrets

If you only know the actress Jessica Walter from her recent work, you probably know her from her role as the singularly-focused, boozy, terrifically manipulative matriarch Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development or her voice acting on the animated spy spoof, Archer. But her career stretches back fifty years, with hundreds of TV appearances, from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Love Boat, and Trapper John, M.D. to a starring role in Clint Eastwood's directorial debut Play Misty for Me.

Jessica sits down with us this week to talk about getting line reads for (the often quite vulgar and racy) scenes on FX's Archer, her love of Lucille Bluth and working with Clint Eastwood. She even divulges a few trade secrets from her role on Flipper.

The fifth season of Archer is airing now on FX on Monday nights.

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Wham Bam Pow Gets Pumped about "Heat" and "Terminator 2"

Sometimes you're in the mood for a foreign film. Or maybe you've got a hankering to binge-watch sitcoms. If you're in the mood for blow-'em-ups and futuristic sci-fi adventures, the folks at the action and sci-fi movie podcast Wham Bam Pow have just the ticket.

Ricky Carmona recommends Michael Mann's Heat, which teamed up Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro for a film about one last heist.

Cameron Esposito recommends Linda Hamilton's approach to taking care of business in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Don't worry if you didn't see the first one -- it's fine to jump right in.

For more high-energy recommendations from the hosts of Wham Bam Pow, subscribe to their podcast and find out what you're missing.

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Annie Hart, L, with Au Revoir Simone members Heather D'Angelo and Erika Forster

"The Song That Changed My Life" with Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone

Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. As the story goes for a lot of teenagers, she didn't quite fit in. The kids at her school wanted to spend time at the mall. They weren't interested in making stuff, shooting videos and writing zines.

Annie found a whole new world, and a whole new group of friends, through music. The song that changed her life is "Knew Song", by the Long Island hardcore band Silent Majority.

Au Revoir Simone's most recent album is Move In Spectrums. They'll be on tour with Broken Bells this spring. You can find their tourdates on their website.

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The Secret Inner Life of Football: Nicholas Dawidoff on a Year with the New York Jets

For all of the analysis on sports networks and the countless hours that Americans spend watching it every week, the sport of football is, in a way, inaccessible. It's composed of complicated plays, and there's a distance between the spectator and the quarterback in his helmet on the field. It's enjoyable and exciting to watch, but it's hard to unpack. "While you can see what's been planned, it's all grounded in a plan that's secret and private," says writer Nicholas Dawidoff.

Dawidoff sought to go inside the world of football, to get a glimpse of the working lives of the coaches and players who spend their weeks planning and strategizing, all for a few brief hours of play on the field. He spent a year embedded with the controversial coach Rex Ryan and the players of the New York Jets, and the result is his new book, Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football.

Dawidoff talks to us about why football -- not baseball -- is the real thinking man's sport, the intense and short professional careers of players, and what he thinks the sport will look like over the coming decades.

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The Outshot: Candlestick Park

This week, Jesse says goodbye to an old friend.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jack Black and Bun B

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Bullseye

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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Our guest host this week is the author and The New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean. You can find more from Susan at her website or follow her on Twitter. Thanks, Susan!


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Jack Black on Musical Snobbery, Childlike Innocence, and the Roles He's Yet to Play

Jack Black always seems to be on the verge of breaking into song. Whether he’s a slacker substitute teacher in School of Rock, an earnest funeral director in Bernie, or a snobby record store clerk in High Fidelity, music has a way of seeping into his performances. Maybe that’s because Black’s portrayals often possess an unbridled joy that’s difficult to capture with spoken dialogue.

Although he's known for his comedic strengths and has often played the "shlubby loser", Black has showed that he's capable of much more. For Peter Jackson’s King Kong, he played a 1930s filmmaker intent on creating an epic narrative, no matter how far into the heart of darkness he has to travel. In Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, he was a disappointing groom prone to occasional bursts of anger. Most recently, he played the titular character in Richard Linklater’s Bernie, a film based on the true story of a kind, gentle mortician accused of murder in a small Texas town. It’s the subtlety of performances like these mixed with the intensity of a man who also headlines the rock band Tenacious D that truly make Black a unique performer.

Guest host Susan Orlean gets to the bottom of Black’s career, from his early days performing one-man shows in his living room to working with some of the biggest names in show business. They’ll talk about some of his early childhood performances, dissecting musical tastes, a new HBO pilot, and why seeing him on Broadway wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

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Ian Cohen on New Heavy Music Releases: Death Grips and Iron Chic

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

He suggests a listen to two new records: Government Plates by experimental hip hop and noise group Death Grips, and Iron Chic's The Constant One.

You find Ian's writing at Pitchfork and Grantland, or follow him on Twitter.

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Bun B of UGK on Rhyming, Big Breaks and Mourning Pimp C, "The Yin to My Yang"

Bun B was half of UGK and still is one of the South’s greatest hip-hop lyricists. Alongside partner Pimp C, he spent two decades rhyming and recording classic hip-hop and helped establish Texas as a force to be reckoned with in the national hip-hop scene. Pimp C died six years ago this month, but Bun has continued to record and release music as a solo artist. His newest album, Trill Og the Epilogue, was released in November.

Jesse sat down with Bun B in 2009 to talk about underwriting a music career with street crime, rhyming with Jay-Z, and his reaction to Pimp C's frequent arrests, setbacks, and untimely passing.

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The Outshot: The Sorcerer of the Guitar

Guest host Susan Orlean goes under the spell of "Franco" Luambo Makiadi, The Sorcerer of the Guitar.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elizabeth Gilbert, Gillian Jacobs, Fred Armisen

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Bullseye
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Elizabeth Gilbert
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Gillian Jacobs
Guests: 
Fred Armisen
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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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.

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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.

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"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: The Influence of Bob & Ray with David Pollock

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Bullseye
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David Pollock
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Tony Hale
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Andrew Noz

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The Comic Chemistry Of Bob & Ray with Writer David Pollock

Your favorite improvising comedians, whether they realize it or not, are descendants of Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding. Their signature satirical sketches, performed equally for their own entertainment as for that of their audience, continually broke new ground in the world of comedy. What started as a simple dream to be radio announcers culminated in a career spanning five decades, performances at Carnegie Hall, and a legacy as two of the funniest radio and television personalities since those job titles came into existence.

David Pollock has written for some of the most important sitcoms of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, including Full House, Frasier, Growing Pains, Cheers, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His new book, Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons, is a detailed history of Bob and Ray, and provides some serious new insight about the comedic duo.

Pollock tells us about Bob and Ray's most hilarious on-air moments, how they invented the concept of comedy in advertising, and the magical chemistry that kept Bob and Ray improvising for over 40 years.

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Andrew Noz Recommends Classic Three 6 Mafia and De La Soul

Our go-to rap critic Andrew Noz shares some of his all-time favorite hip-hop tracks.

First he recommends the menacing Memphis track Victim Of A Driveby (Mask And The Glock) by Triple Six Mafia feat. SOG & Lil Glock, off their 1994 "Smoked Out Loced Out" tape from Prophet Entertainment.

Noz also recommends De La Soul's Ego Trippin Pt. 2, the allusion-filled second single off their 1993 album "Buhloone Mindstate" from Tommy Boy.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

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The Frightened Roles of Tony Hale

No character epitomizes Arrested Development's eponymous theme like Buster Bluth. Giving his mom back rubs, dating her best friend, and sucking cigarette smoke from her mouth while she's under house arrest--Buster is an eerie Oedipal manchild to the nth degree.

Similarly in the HBO show Veep, one person in Washington truly enables Vice President Selina Meyer, feeding the ego of an otherwise vestigial political player--her body man, Gary Walsh.

Both characters are played by Emmy-nominee Tony Hale, whose comedic facility with the role of obsequious mama's boy is unmatched.

Tony sat down with Jesse last year to discuss the humor of the behind-the-scenes world of politics, Buster Bluth's comedic inspiration, and the role his faith plays in his acting career. The third season of Veep will air on HBO in the spring of 2014.

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The Outshot: The Throne Of The Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly

In this week's Outshot, Jesse tells the story of a man who secretly spent the last fifteen years of his life building something amazing in a rented garage.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Fred Willard & David Gordon Green

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Bullseye
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Fred Willard
Guests: 
David Gordon Green
Guests: 
Ian Cohen
Guests: 
Nate DiMeo

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Playing The Buffoon: Fred Willard On Improv, Christopher Guest, and Missed Opportunities

For over fifty years, Fred Willard has played ignorant, self-absorbed buffoons that are impossible not to laugh at. He's a master improviser and comedian who started with his comedy duo, Greco and Willard, and moved on to work with the Second City and improv groups The Committee and the Ace Trucking Company. Today, he's probably best known and loved as one of Christopher Guest's troupe in films like Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show. Willard can be seen in Jeff Garlin's new film Dealin' With Idiots.

Willard tells us about drag-performances in his military school, the real life inspiration for his improvised comedy, and being the exact opposite of the happy-go-lucky optimists he plays on screen.

You may also like these interviews:
Catherine O'Hara
Christopher Guest
Jeff Garlin

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Heavy Rock with Ian Cohen: Forest Swords and Crash Of Rhinos

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some new heavy rock releases, both out in the U.S. this month.

His first recommendation is Engravings, the new record from UK producer Matthew Barnes, aka Forest Swords. The album is out August 26.

Ian also recommends the UK emo/hardcore band Crash of Rhinos' new album Knots, out on August 27.

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The Memory Palace: Origin Stories

We share a segment from Nate DiMeo's more-than-just-a-history-podcast, The Memory Palace. Nate takes us on a tour of his own family's history, including his grandfather's nightclub act.

Nate DiMeo is a public radio producer and a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

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David Gordon Green, right, with actors Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd

David Gordon Green on Prince Avalanche, Camping Alone, and Clint Eastwood

It's not easy to sum up the booming career of writer and director David Gordon Green. While he's best known for his slacker-comedies such as Pineapple Express and the HBO series Eastbound and Down, he also makes films that are sentimental, cerebral, and poignant, like George Washington and All The Real Girls. His new film, Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, is somewhere in between.

David talks to Jesse about his love for camping alone in the woods, his affinity for characters like Kenny Powers (who are likeable in spite of everything they say and do), and how it felt to direct a cinema legend like Clint Eastwood.

Prince Avalanche is in select theaters and On Demand August 9th.

You may also like this interview:
Lily Tomlin

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The Outshot: Robin Thicke's A Beautiful World

Love it or hate it, Robin Thicke's number-1 with a bullet single "Blurred Lines," and its accompanying NSFW music video, have been impossible to avoid these past few months. But Jesse is here to tell you that there is more to Robin Thicke than cowbell laden beats and dancing half-nudes--and it starts way back in 2002 with his neo-soul debut album Cherry Blue Skies (re-released in 2003 as A Beautiful World).

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Nathan Rabin, Benjamin Nugent Author of American Nerd

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Benjamin Nugent
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

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Insane Clown Posse

Becoming an Enthusiast: Nathan Rabin on Loving Phish and ICP

Some bands thrive in the cultural middleground. You can play their music in the grocery store, and no one objects. Neither the jam band Phish nor the horrorcore hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse plays that kind of music. Each group has a rabid, devoted following of fans, and on the flip side, has inspired intense loathing. Phish's noodley covers and original songs are derided as music for druggies and hacky-sack playing college students. Insane Clown Posse and their dark, often violent music is for "Juggalos", their group of Faygo-drinking, clown makeup- wearing fans.

As a longtime culture critic and former Head Writer of The Onion's AV Club, Nathan Rabin thought he was immune to the draw of either group. Their music and communities weren't high-brow. They weren't terribly fashionable or cool. So he set out to write a kind of sociological text about the groups, and find out why they had such die-hard fans. He didn't know he would end up a convert.

Rabin's new book is You Don't Know Me, But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, And My Adventures With Two Of Music's Most Maligned Tribes.

Rabin tells us about his psychedelic experiences at their concerts, his mental breakdown halfway through researching the book, and finding solace in music and community among Phish Heads and Juggalos.

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Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Comic Recommendations From Brian Heater and Alex Zalben

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben stop by to recommend their favorite graphic novels as of late.

Brian recommends Aesthetics: A Memoir by Ivan Brunetti. A self-taught artist, illustrator for the New Yorker, and currently on faculty at Columbia College Chicago, Brunetti examines his many influences and how they combined to make his unique, simple, DIY style.

Alex suggests Matt Kindt's Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. In the town of Red Wheelbarrow, no crime gets by Detective Gould. But can this hardboiled detective connect the dots between a young woman who obsessively steals chairs, a man who carts dirt around town, and a photographer whose subject matter is others' private tragedies?

Brian Heater is the author of BoingBoing's comics column, Comics Rack. He also hosts the new podcast, Recommended if you Like.

Alex Zalben is a producer for MTV Geek and host of the Nerdist podcast Comic Book Club.

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An early "nerd" sketch on Saturday Night Live

Nerding It Up With Benjamin Nugent

This interview originally aired in 2008.

Benjamin Nugent's book American Nerd explores a people and their history. Nerds have been an archetype for decades now. But where did they come from? What is a "nerd", anyway? Benjamin Nugent set out to write a loving portrait of nerds and nerdiness -- including his own.

He talks to us about the origins of "nerds" in the humor pages of college newspapers, Saturday Night Live's first dig at nerds , and the underappreciated toughness of his nerdy friends in middle school.

Nugent released a novel, Good Kids, earlier this year.

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The Outshot: Thief

Jesse recommends the 1981 noir Thief, starring James Caan. It's a crime thriller about one last job, but it's just as much about running from loneliness as it is about running from the cops. Director Michael Mann infuses it with a cool, dark beauty unlike any robbery film you've seen.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Directors of "Doin' It In The Park" And Mary Roach

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Bobbito Garcia
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Kevin Couliau
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Mary Roach
Guests: 
Shirley Caeasar
Guests: 
Sean O'Neal
Guests: 
Alex Dowd

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Doin' It In The Park: Pickup Basketball with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau

Kenny "The Jet" Smith was an All-American at North Carolina, first round NBA draft pick, and two-time NBA Champion with the Houston Rockets. And yet, his favorite basketball memory? The first time he was allowed to play ball on the "big court" by his apartment in Queens when he was 15 years old. Such is the power that pick-up basketball holds for New Yorkers.

Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau are the filmmakers behind Doin' It In The Park, a passionate and beautiful new documentary about New York City's street basketball culture. One summer, Bobbito and Kevin jumped on their bicycles and set out to play basketball in 180 of NYC's more than 700 public outdoor courts, and talk with the diverse array of people who play there.

They talk to us about meeting the legendary playground figures, learning the history of the parks, and immersing themselves in the unique styles of play that can only be found on New York courts.

Bobbito Garcia (aka Kool Bob Love) is a street ball player and hip hop DJ. He co-founded Bounce Magazine and has been playing basketball in New York City's parks since 1973.

Kevin Couliau is a professional outdoor basketball photographer and film director. He's been playing basketball since age six.

Their film Doin' It The Park is touring the world, and is available for direct download on their website.

Click here to listen or share Doin' It in the Park with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau on Soundcloud

Shirley Caesar on The Song That Changed My Life: "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow"

As a little girl growing up in North Carolina, the gospel song "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" inspired Shirley Caesar to keep trucking when times were tough. But it wasn't just a stirring piece of music. Just a few years later, that same song catapulted her from anonymity to national tours and a career of over sixty years (and counting).

Gospel singer, eleven-time Grammy winner and pastor Shirley Caesar on the song that changed her life: Thomas A. Dorsey's "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow".

Pastor Caesar's newest album is Good God. She continues to tour nationwide.

Click here to listen or share Shirley Caesar on "The Song That Changed My Life" on Soundcloud

The AV Club Recommends: "Immunity" by Jon Hopkins and "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu"

We are joined this week by two critics from the A.V. Club -- news editor Sean O'Neal and film editor Alex Dowd.

Sean recommends a listen to Immunity, the new album from the UK-based electronic music producer Jon Hopkins.

Alex suggests watching The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu, a fascinating documentary compiled entirely from state-sanctioned footage of Ceausescu's brutal reign as dictator of Romania. The movie is out now on DVD.

Click here to listen or share The AV Club's Recommendations on Soundcloud

In One End And Out The Other With Mary Roach

We eat food every day, but for most of us, our exposure to it is confined to the input and output. In her new book Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal, the bestselling science writer Mary Roach shares some hilarious, enlightening tales about the beginning, middle, and end of this journey, and all of the grossly fascinating science that goes along with it.

Plus, we'll talk about eating dog food and the REAL story behind Elvis' death. Yes, we went there.

Mary Roach has tackled the science behind death, sex, space travel and more in five other books, which can be found here. If you can't get enough of Mary (we definitely can't!), check out this past interview about her last book, Packing For Mars.

Click here to listen or share Mary Roach and "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal" on Soundcloud

The Outshot: Prince's "Dirty Mind"

Prince is one of the rare artists whose name has become synonymous with an entire era of sound. Jesse explains how Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind was the turning point in his career, marking a transformation from musician to music god.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lily Tomlin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Davy Rothbart

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Lily Tomlin
Guests: 
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey

It's the MaxFunDrive, April 1st - 12th! Visit maximumfun.org/donate to find out more and support this show.

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Television with The AV Club: Happy Endings and Suburgatory

Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey from The AV Club join us this week to talk about what you should be watching this spring. Erik's pick is Happy Endings, a great sitcom from ABC with undeservedly less-than-great ratings. And speaking of ABC sitcoms: Claire's recommendation is Suburgatory, a single-camera sitcom about a couple of Manhattanites who make the big move upstate.

Embed or share The AV Club's TV recommendations: Happy Endings and Suburgatory


Lily Tomlin on Being Someone Else... In Her Own Way

Lily Tomlin has a remarkable range as an actress and comedian. Whether she's playing a precocious six-year-old on Laugh-In or a pill-popping sixty-six year old on HBO's Eastbound and Down; whatever character she plays, Lily inhabits her roles in a way that few performers can.

Now, she appears in the new film Admission, playing a tough second-wave feminist mom to an uptight college admissions officer played by Tina Fey. Though she may not have as much screen time as Fey, Tomlin made the most of the role (and insisted on the proper accoutrements, including a fake tattoo of founding feminist Bella Abzug).

Lily talks to us about shaping her role in Admission, the moment that she decided she wanted to be a professional actor...and yes, a certain YouTube-famous confrontation (link NSFW) with I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell.

Admission is in theaters now.

But wait! There's more! Click here for an extended interview with Lily Tomlin for talk about how she develops her characters, coming out of the closet as a performer, and why her main priority as a comedian isn't getting laughs. And don't forget to share this one with your friends – it's too good to keep to yourself!


Lost and Found with FOUND Magazine's Davy Rothbart

FOUND Magazine co-creator and editor Davy Rothbart is back again to share more pieces of lost and found ephemera: receipts, notes, and letters with stories behind them that we can only imagine...or laugh at.

Davy's new book of personal essays is called My Heart Is an Idiot. FOUND Magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson on The Universe and the Path of Most Resistance

When Neil DeGrasse Tyson was a kid, he had a plan: he wanted to be an astrophysicist. But the adults around him had other plans. They thought he'd make a great athlete. But Neil stuck to his guns, and now he's one of the most famous astrophysicists in the world – heck, one of the only famous astrophysicists in the world.

But how did he persevere? Or, to use his words: why was it that he took the "path of most resistance" when there were plenty of other, easier paths around him? Ultimately, it was his passion for the universe itself that kept him going.

Neil joins us to talk about why he thinks the universe is more awesome than anything else...and to maybe try to help Jesse get over his fear of outer space.

Neil is the host of StarTalk, director of the Hayden Planetarium and the author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, out now in paperback.

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The Outshot: Opening Day

This week, the big thing on Jesse's mind is baseball, specifically opening day – not just for the excitement of the game itself, but for the new beginnings it brings.

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Special thanks this week to Jalen Warshawsky and No Color for providing the music played during our pledge breaks. You can find those songs and more at the Free Music Archive.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Simon Rich and Bill Burr

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Spaceteam and The Magazine

Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing and the Gweek podcast joins us again this week to talk about some of his current favorite things. Mark suggests a turn at the multiplayer iPhone game Spaceteam, which is all about yelling techno-gibberish at friends. In the mood for something a little more quiet? Mark also recommends The Magazine, a minimalist, ad-free digital publication "for geeks and curious people."

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Comedy Writer Simon Rich: Why Writing Like a Child Can Be a Good Thing

Simon Rich got his first book deal in 2007. Since then, he’s published five books, received a nomination for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, contributed regular essays to the New Yorker, and worked on Saturday Night Live as a staff writer (which he recently left for a top-secret writing job at Pixar). How old is he? 29. Basically, Simon Rich has his act together.

The characters he writes about? Not so much. His latest book, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is a collection of vignettes about lost characters coming to terms with love. And these aren’t your typical stories of romance and heartbreak; in true Simon Rich fashion, his stories make the mundane profound and vice-versa. (No one else can write a story about God’s girlfriend and follow it up with a touching monologue from a prophylactic’s POV.)

Simon sits down with Jesse to discuss the autobiographical elements of his stories, the appeal of writing from a child’s point of view, and how love is a lot like heroin.

Simon Rich’s new book of essays, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is available in bookstores everywhere.

Want to hear about Simon's obsession with The Simpsons? It's here, in a longer cut of our interview. Click to embed and share it with your friends.


Comedy: Eugene Mirman Discovers a Notebook From His Past

Digging through old stuff from your childhood can be a lot of different things – insightful, hilarious, wistful, nostalgic. But in comedian Eugene Mirman’s case, it was just embarrassing. In this clip from his latest special, Eugene describes a childhood relic, found in his parents’ basement.

Eugene Mirman’s new special, An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory, is now available as a combination CD/DVD.

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Bill Burr On Confrontation and Comedy

Conventional wisdom amongst standup comics dictates that a crowd has to be on your side before you can make them laugh. It’s good general advice, but it’s not advice that Bill Burr follows – and he’s all the better for it.

Bill Burr’s comedy is, in a word, aggressive. It’s not just that he looks and sounds tough, qualities that have landed him voice acting work in Grand Theft Auto IV and guest appearances on Breaking Bad. Aggression and confrontation are at the core of Bill’s act; he’s not afraid to curse out unruly audience members or start a set with a joke that, in a lesser comic’s hands, might totally alienate a crowd. But his comedy isn’t all tough-guy machismo. He’s just as likely to direct a rant at himself as he is others, a quality that makes his work all the more hilarious and human.

Bill spoke with Jesse a few years ago to talk about Bill’s style of comedy, challenging himself and audiences in his act, and every performer’s most dreaded nightmare: having to follow a dog or child onstage.

His latest special, You People Are All The Same (which was the subject of a recent Outshot), is streaming on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in October 2010.

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The Outshot: Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive"

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tears the house down with a timeless live album. It’s Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive."

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Saunders and Maria Bamford

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Comics Recommendations: Hawkeye and Don't Go Where I Can't Follow

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some comics picks. Alex suggests you check out Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, a superhero comic about everyday stuff -- like attending a BBQ. Brian recommends Anders Nilsen's Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, a very moving pastiche of a couple's relationship.

Brian Heater curates Boing Boing’s comics column, and Alex Zalben writes about comics for MTV Geek.

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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 new collection, Tenth of December, is out now.

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).

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Maria Bamford: Comedy's Orchid

Maria Bamford's comedy is weird and wonderfully distinctive. She's just released a new special, recorded at her home, where she performs a stand up 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. Her new Comedy Central CD / DVD special, Ask Me About My New God, is due out later this year.

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The Outshot: William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe"

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

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