Episode 124: David Cronenberg, Miranda July’s PennySavior, and Real Estate in Paris

David Cronenberg/Photo by Liam Daniel (SPC)

This week: David Cronenberg plays with our minds…We toast the phonograph with a drink that sounds like it… PennySaver 101 from Miranda July… Odd Future goes Pop… We’re thankful for Elaine Stritch… What Nietzche and Hulk Hogan have in common… Sarcasm in the Smithsonian? “Awesome.”… And we check in on Real Estate in Paris.

Icebreaker: Lionel Boyce
Lionel Boyce, member of the red-hot rap collective Odd Future and writer of LA Weekly’s “Thoughts from a Random Black Guy,” gives dad the cold shoulder. Actually, the cold everything.

Small Talk: Smithsonian Sarcasm
Reyhan Harmanci, culture editor of San Francisco’s Bay Citizen, shares a really stimulating new study about sarcasm. “Best.” Small Talk. Ever.

A History Lesson with Booze: The Phonograph and “The Edison ‘77”
This week back in 1877, Thomas Edison announced he’d invented the first working recording device — the phonograph. 134 years later we’ve got Dolby, THX… and this custom cocktail inspired by the phonograph’s special sound.

The “Edison 77,” as put on record by Andrew Meieran (owner) and Andrew Smith (head bartender) at The Edison in Los Angeles:

Combine in a shaker with ice:

  • 1 oz. Applejack (a New Jersey spirit, like Thomas Alva)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. honey syrup

Lightly shake and empty into a champagne flute. Top with 1 oz. champagne – essential for the hiss and crackle. (Special note: Bring an unwrapped toy to The Edison before the end of the month, and they’ll serve you an Edison ‘77 on the house!)

Guest List: Demetri Martin
Comedian Demetri Martin has made a name for himself with his witty, word-smithy stand-up and with his work on TV’s “The Daily Show” and “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” In honor of Thanksgiving, he reads a selection about his dietary adventures from his recent book, This is a Book.

Etiquette: Elaine Stritch
Elaine Stritch made musical theater history portraying Joanne in the original Broadway cast of “Company” — recording the definitive version of the tune “Ladies Who Lunch” — and a new generation knows her from her role as Jack Donaghy’s Mom on NBC’s “30 Rock.” She’s dated Brando, dissed Sinatra, and conquered the Great White Way. Not exactly known for mincing words, she sets us straight on the true meaning of “ladylike,” decries the evils of practical jokes, and reminisces about a four-martini dinner party with Ol’ Blue Eyes. (Dedicated listeners will recognize parts of this segment. But amongst the leftovers, we’ve sprinkled unaired parts of Elaine’s etiquette primer.)

Eavesdropping: The Incredible Hulk
Comic artist Brad Neely has grown a cult following with his clever online videos, like “Wizard People Dear Reader”, which pastes an absurd voicetrack over the Harry Potter films. That got the attention of the show South Park, where he wrote for two seasons. Now he has his own animated TV show, China, IL, which just launched. This week we overhear Neely telling some dinner-party worthy tales about the star of his show – everyone’s favorite pro wrestler “HH.”

Chattering Class: Miranda July on PennySaver Protocol
Before Craigslist and eBay, pulpy handouts like the PennySaver (and of course, the classifieds) made it possible for neighbors to buy, sell, and exchange their stuff. Amazingly, the PennySaver still exists… which is a good thing for writer-director Miranda July. Last year, the newsletter led her on a creative, story-rich odyssey across LA and broke a nasty spell of writer’s block. She teaches Rico about PennySaver protocol, lovable luddites, and other strange (and very cheap) wonders that appear in her new book It Chooses You. It hit bookstores this week.

Main Course: Chinese Turkey
Thanksgiving is coming, and with it the inevitable boring turkey… unless you buy it in Chinatown. Brendan heads over to L.A.’s Chinatown— the home of the tasty phenomenon known as Chinese BBQ turkey — to dine at Hop Woo restaurant. How many non-traditional takes on the holiday bird can he sample? A lot.

Guest of Honor: David Cronenberg
Celebrated filmmaker David Cronenberg made his name as the creator of smart yet gory horror films about disturbing bodily transformation – like his hit remake of “The Fly.” But lately he’s explored the dark realms of the mind as well as the body. His latest, “A Dangerous Method,” is a period drama about the professional relationship between seminal psychotherapists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud… and about Jung’s romantic entanglements with one of his own “hysterical” patients. David tells Rico about therapy’s early days, the “Star Wars” movie he almost directed, and why Martin Scorcese need not fear him.

Special: Break for Breakfast
Here’s a little radio secret: when we record a guest, we have to adjust the microphone volume to their voice. And so – for a quick sound check – we often ask them to tell us something they had to eat that day. Turns out, these test clips were actually fascinating little windows into the worlds of their tellers. Behold this strange and silly assemblage of famous people’s breakfasts.

The Guests (in order of appearance): Randy Newman, Antonio Banderas, Joan Collins, Big Freedia, Brian Selznick, Lizzie Post and Dan Post-Senning, Chuck Klosterman, Jackie Collins, John Lithgow, Terry Allen and Gabrielle Hamilton.

Soundtrack: Real Estate (in Paris) – “It’s Real”
Something we’re thankful for? New Jersey beach pop group Real Estate and its infectious track “It’s Real” (off the recent Days album). Those cheery guitar lines and harmonious choruses would smooth over any stressful family get-together. The band dropped us a little sonic postcard from Paris, as it continues its international tour.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

DJ T – “Turtle Soup”

Judy Caplan Ginsburgh – “Manners”

Phoenix – “School’s Rules”

Cal Tjader – “Miss Moneypenny Goes For Broke”

Ulrich Schnauss – “A Lie For Breakfast”

Real Estate – “It’s Real”