Episodes

Episode 169: Anna Kendrick, Kevin Nealon, and the Perks of Being a Pittsburgher

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of "50/50" poses during the 2011 Toronto Film Festival at Guess Portrait Studio on September 12, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

This Week: Oscar-nominated actress Anna Kendrick sings of adorkability… SNL alum Kevin Nealon blesses us with etiquette advice…”The Perks of Being a Wallflower” creator Stephen Chbosky talks of time and place… Okkervil River runs through a party soundtrack… Here comes the (terrorist) bride… And the Primanti Sandwich goes national. Plus: We witness the birth of a clean machine, shine a light on art, and learn the history of comedy.


Icebreaker: Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro, Hawaiian ukulele phenom (and new Dad), offers up some funny baby antics. Jake’s new album “Grand Ukulele” comes out this week.


Small Talk: John Spong

Texas Monthly senior editor John Spong tells us about something else that’s big and bright (and messing up art) in Texas.


A History Lesson with Booze: The Vacuum cleaner and The “Suck It Up”

This week back in 1899, John Thurman patented a device that was almost — but not quite — a vacuum cleaner… inspiring Englishman Hubert C. Booth to invent the real deal. But it took another few years (and ditching the horse-drawn cart) for the dust-busting device to take off as a consumer product, thanks to an Ohio janitor and a business baron named Hoover. Hear the story, then toast the spirit of invention with a cocktail that doesn’t suck:

“Suck It Up,” as concocted by bartender Melissa Venditti of the Main Street Grill in North Canton, Ohio — Hoover’s former hometown:

In a mixing glass, add:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Canadian Whiskey
  • 1/4 oz. amaretto
  • generous splash of fresh-squeezed lemonade
  • splash of soda water

Chill, pour into martini glass, serve it up, hoover it down.


Guest List: Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” has sold over a million copies; many critics consider it one of the best young adult books ever. Stephen’s own movie adaptation expands nationally this weekend. It’s a moving coming-of-age story, set in early-’90s Pittsburgh. Stephen shares a list of favorite art that also captures a time and place:


Guest of Honor: Anna Kendrick

Actress Anna Kendrick’s career took off with “Up in the Air,” when she nabbed an Oscar nomination for her role as the young go-getter opposite George Clooney. This month she shows her range by starring in both the cop drama “End of Watch” and the musical comedy “Pitch Perfect.” Brendan chats with Anna about her budding rap career, the appeal of the ragamuffin… and then she provides play-by-play to an adorkable studio disaster.


Eavesdropping: Lisa Zeidner

Lisa Zeidner has authored five books, including the acclaimed “Layover.” Her new, darkly comic novel “Love Bomb” depicts a wedding disaster to end all others. We listen in on the “bride“‘s grand entrance. (Lisa speaks at the Zocalo Public Square in L.A. this Wednesday, and next week at the Center for Fiction in NYC.)


Main Course: A Sandwich With Fries

America’s been noshing it’s way through a sandwich renaissance – with grilled-cheese cropping up on luxe menus, chefs reinventing fish sandwiches, etc. Now, Pittsburgh’s signature sandwich – Primanti’s – is making the rounds; restaurants and food trucks from SF to Brooklyn to LA have started serving the peculiar meat/fries/slaw sandwich. Native Pittsburgher Rico visits the original Primanti Bros. restaurant to learn why their concoction remains inimitable.


Etiquette: Kevin Nealon

Kevin Nealon was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member for almost a decade, inventing characters like Mr. Subliminal and the pumped Franz. Last month he wrapped up eight seasons on the Showtime series “Weeds,” on which he stole scene after NSFW scene as accountant turned Ponzi-schemer Doug. And he’s of course a veteran stand-up comic – his latest Showtime special “Whelmed, but Not Overly” hits iTunes this weekend. Kevin offers listeners etiquette tips on shutting town loud talkers and ending conversations — then gives us his blessings. (Catch Kevin live this weekend in Dallas, and then in Omaha on Oct 19-20.)


Chattering Class: “Funny”man David Misch

David Misch has written for everything from “Saturday Night Life” to “Mork & Mindy.” He now teaches classes on the history of comedy… and he’s distilled his wisdom — and that of other comic luminaries — into the primer “Funny The Book: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Comedy.” He gives Brendan a crash course in Sumerian humor and the wild(e) birth of standup.

Soundtrack: Okkervil River’s Will Sheff
Will Sheff, the man behind lauded indie band Okkervil River, can turn a phrase like few others (even earning a grammy nom for his liner notes). This weekend, catch him and the band – alongside Best Coast, Grouplove, and others – at the Cultivate ‘Food Ideas & Music’ Festival in Denver. Will provides us with a party soundtrack that’s best appreciated al fresco.

Other Music In this Week’s Show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Winnifred Atwell – “Britannia Rag”

RJD2 – “Clean Living”

Thomas Newman – “Welcome to the Suck”

Bruce Springsteen – “Thunder Road”

Jerry Goldsmith – “Out Of The Rain” (from “L.A. Confidential”)

W.G. Snuffy Walden – “On the Road to Kansas” (from “the Stand”)

Chico Mann – “Go To That Place”

Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre – “No Diggity (Instrumental)”

Beulah – “Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand”

Enoch Light – “I’m in the Mood for Love”

New Orleans’ Own The Dukes of Dixieland – “Big Butter & Egg Man”

Dennis Wilson’s Cocktail Piano – “Little White Lies”

Penguin Prison – “A Funny Thing”

Little Beaver (Willie Hale) – “Party Down”

Donald Thomas – “Black Night is Calling Me Home”

Michael Hurley – “The Rue of Ruby Whores”

Okkervil River – “Your Past Life is a Blast”