Episode 191: Laura Dern, Billy Bragg, and Bite-Sized Giants
This week: “Enlightened” actress Laura Dern on brains and Baio… Folk-rocker Billy Bragg wins hearts and minds in our etiquette segment… They Might Be Giants list tiny gems… We toast the first man(nequin!) in space… The story behind SXSW, as told by the festival’s co-founder… Indie musician Tracey Thorn finds her voice… Plus, build-your-own hotels, cocktails by the barrel-ful, Side of the Road music, and lots more.
Small Talk: Reyhan Harmanci Reyhan Harmanci, deputy editor of the food/culture magazine Modern Farmer, tells us about new Euro budget hotels… wherein you might just have to make your own beds…and desks…and showers.
A History Lesson with Booze: Ivan Ivanovich and “The Splash Down” This week back in 1961, Ivan Ivanovich became the first man in space. Or rather, the first mannequin in space. Learn about this state-of-the-art dummy, and then toast his successes with this custom cocktail:
“THE IVAN SPLASH,” as assembled by Peter Mitchell, owner of [Leon’s Lounge] in Houston, TX a.k.a. Space City.
In a shaker filled with ice, combine:
- 1.75 oz Stolichnaya Vodka
- 1.5 oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
Shake and then strain into a tulip glass. Top up with Brasserie Lefèbvre Manneken Pis Belgian White Beer. (There’s your splash down.) Observe how eerily similar it looks to a real cocktail. Then drink just to be sure. You may install the glass in the Smithsonian, if you wish.
Guest List: They Might Be Giants Grammy-winning duo They Might Be Giants (John Flansburgh and John Linnell) have been churning out catchy, smart tunes since 1986 - for both adults and on several albums for kids. Their 16th album “Nanobots” (out this week) features a whopping 25 songs in just 45 minutes. To celebrate the less-is-more idea, they suggest a few other tiny gems. (Catch TMBG on tour now.)
- “This is to Say” and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams
- “Propaganda” by Sparks
- Commercial Album by The Residents
- “Hive Mind” by They Might be Giants
Guest of Honor: Laura Dern Actor Laura Dern has wowed audiences in everything from the “Jurassic Park” blockbusters to independent gems like “Citizen Ruth,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Wild at Heart.” Her latest performance - the lead in HBO’s dramedy “Enlightened” - has earned raves, and netted her a Golden Globe. (She also executive produces the show with writer-costar Mike White.) Laura plays Amy Jellicoe, an executive who has a nervous breakdown, attends rehab, and emerges with a blissed-out new age philosophy. Her zeal for change ultimately leads her to become a whistleblower…in her own organization. Brendan chats with Laura about the show’s rising political consciousness, David Lynch’s brains, and Scott Baio’s leisure suit. (“Enlightened“‘s fantastic Season 2 just wrapped last week. You can find it on HBO Go. Catch up on Season 1 via iTunes.)
Eavesdropping: Tracey Thorn British singer Tracey Thorn has recorded hits with the duo Everything But The Girl and in collaboration with acts like Massive Attack. More recently she’s released a couple of solo albums, like 2012’s Tinsel and Lights.) Tracey’s new memoir “Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star” covers her decades-long career in punk and pop. Today we overhear a tale about the time she found her voice.
Main Course: Barrels of Booze There’s a curious drink trend creeping across the land: pre-made or ‘draft’ cocktails. Some consider it strange, even sacrilege. To others, it’s a matter of convenience - think Manhattans on demand. Rico chats with Jeremy Adler and Kiowa Bryan of L.A.’s Eveleigh - which is offering negroni cocktails on tap - about the pros and cons of mass-produced cocktails.
Etiquette: Billy Bragg Billy Bragg’s mix of pop, folk, punk and protest music has won him a loyal following since the eighties. His new album “Tooth and Nail” (out 3/18) takes a more personal approach to songwriting; it actually draws inspiration from a fan’s nickname for him: the ‘Sherpa of Heartbreak.’ Billy tells us a little bit about it, then gamely tackles our listeners’ etiquette questions…about everything from lyrical ‘reinterpretation’ to explicit genealogy to a Trivial Pursuit showdown with Joey Ramone. (Catch Billy on tour, starting this week at South-by-Southwest.)
Chattering Class: SXSW 411 This weekend, practically half of the known world will flock to Austin, Texas for the mega arts festival South-by-Southwest. Hard to believe, for a gathering that began with a few dozen local bands. Co-founder Louis Black chats with Rico about why it caught fire, the tears that fuel the fest, and a memorable close-up with Johnny Cash. (SXSW has begun and continues through March 17th.)
One for the Road: Big Black Delta - “Side of the Road” If the British rock group Electric Light Orchestra had a grandchild, chances are it would sound like Big Black Delta - the solo musical project from musician Jonathan Bates. Here’s a tantalizing tease of Delta’s forthcoming album - it’s called “Side of the Road.”
Other music in this week’s show:
The Sea & Cake - “The Argument”
Aphex Twin - “Boy/Girl Song”
Tipsy - “Liquordelic”
The Red Army Choir - “The Internationale”
Saturday Astrology - “Space Vegas”
Alexander Robotnick & Ludus Pinsky - “N5 From Outer Space”
Prokofiev - “Symphony No. 1 in D Major Op 25”
Sparks - “Propaganda”
The Residents - “The Nameless Souls”
They Might Be Giants - “Hive Mind”
Worst Friends - “Short Stopped”
Jurgen Kneiper - “Urstromtal (The Glacial Valley)”
Everything But The Girl - “Five Fathoms”
David Bowie -“Rebel, Rebel”
Everything But The Girl - “Get Me”
Dujeous - “The New Beer Song”
Billy Bragg - “Handyman Blues”
Billy Bragg - “Greetings To The New Brunette”
The Texas Playboys - “Texas Playboys Theme”
Big Black Delta - “Side of the Road”