Episode 136: Michel Hazanavicius, New Fruit, and Undead Presidents

This week: “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius breaks the silence… Brendan witnesses the arrival of a fruit sensation…A former U.S. president dishes out etiquette tips… Titanic sound achievements, selected by a 7-time Oscar-winning sound designer… Sharon Van Etten’s moody party soundtrack… the real “Bonfire of the Vanities”… and Comedian Sarah Colonna breaks up with eHarmony. Plus, travel trends, a reality- check for gamers, and a joke from Miranda July.

Icebreaker: Miranda July

Miranda July wears many hats: writer, director, artist. This week, she’s Portlandia guest star and Dinner Party joketeller.

Small Talk: Reihan Salaam

Reihan Salaam, columnist for The Daily, tells us about a new law that would force South Korean gamers to face reality — for ten minutes.

A History Lesson With Booze: The (First) Bonfire of the Vanities and the Anello De Fuoco

Around this time in 1497, in the middle of Florence’s Piazza Della Signoria, a Dominican priest named Savonarola had a pile of Renaissance treasures set ablaze. Learn about the famous bonfire, then kick back with the conflagrant drink it inspired.

“Anello De Fuoco,” as created Scott Baird, partner at 15 Romolo in San Francisco’s molto bella North Beach neighborhood:

In a mixing glass, add:

  • 1 dash Angostura orange bitters
  • 3/4 oz. Vin Santo dessert wine (aka “Saint’s Wine”)
  • 1 oz. Vergano Americano (or substitute 1 oz. Nonino Amarro)
  • 1.5 oz. Cognac (doesn’t have to be the best, but avoid the worst)
  • ice

Stir until diluted to taste. Strain into a chilled 4.5-to-6 oz. martini glass.

From an organic orange, cut a disc-shaped slice of peel, being careful not to cut past pith into the actual fruit. Light a wooden match and warm the orange side of the peel, then position the match between the drink and the peel — overall distance from drink to peel should be 3 to 4 inches. Flex fruit in half to shoot oils through the lit match and into the cocktail. Or make like Botticelli and aim it at an irreplacable example of your own art.

Guest List: Gary Rydstrom

Gary Rydstrom directed the American version of the Japanese anime film “The Secret World Of Arietty” (from Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli), which hits theaters this weekend. But much of Gary’s work (and play) has been with sound: He created dinosaur screams for “Jurassic Park;” a historic shipwreck in “Titanic;” and D-Day mayhem in “Saving Private Ryan.” Next week he’s up for his eighth Oscar, for his efforts on the Spielberg epic “War Horse.” Gary shares a list of three great cinema sounds… from cartoon falls to Satanic howls.

Guest of Honor: Michel Hazanavicius

French director Michel Hazanavicius’ spy-movie parody “OSS 1-17” hit it big in Europe, but in the US, he’s best known for writing and directing the silent comedy “The Artist.” The critical fave is up for ten Oscars, including Best Director. He tells Rico about his Western dreams, Citizen Kameos, and why 80 percent of directors want to kill him.

Eavesdropping: Sarah Colonna

Sarah Colonna, comedian and writer on the TV show “Chelsea Lately,” just released a memoir called Life as I Blow It. Today we overhear her reading a dinner-party-worthy excerpt… about the day eHarmony paired her up with the last guy she’d ever date: her boyfriend.

Chattering Class: Practical Travel in 2012

Michelle Higgins writes the “Practical Traveler” column for the New York Times. As we momentarily escape winter (and politics, and traffic) by planning summer vacations, she chimes in with three new trends in travel: tours to Cuba, self-weighing bags, and clothes that stand in for luggage.

Etiquette: Thomas Jefferson (a.k.a. Clay Jenkinson)

Just in time for President’s Day, America’s third president drops by to answer listener’s etiquette questions. That’d be bon vivant, social leveler, and Conversationalist-in-Chief Thomas Jefferson… as channeled by renowned humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, the man behind the weekly radio show/podcast The Thomas Jefferson Hour.

Main Course: Enter the Dekopon

Ever so quietly, the greatest citrus in the world made its US debut this week… and Brendan was there to witness it. The “dekopon,” a Japanese import, is bigger than a tangerine, sweeter than an orange, and less chewy than either. David Karp, a.k.a. the “fruit detective,” has been sitting on the secret back-story of the dekopon for thirteen years, and he finally published it this week in the LA Times. He tells Brendan about the coup, and then they take a bite out of the formerly forbidden fruit.

Dinner Party Soundtrack: Sharon Van Etten

Rising indie queen Sharon Van Etten lays her soul bare in guileless, gutsy folk-pop tunes. Last week she released her third album Tramp to raves. As she kicks off a Spring tour, she takes a break to suggest a few worthwhile songs… for what would have to be a pretty moody dinner party.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Ensemble Recherche – Charles Wuorinen: “Bearbeitungen uber das Glogauer Liederbuch: III. Der Notter Schwantcz”

The Ex – “Burnsome”

VHS Or Beta – “Burn It All Down”

Carl M. Stalling – “Looney Tunes” / “The Fastest With the Mostest

John Williams – “Jurassic Park (Theme)”

Bernard Herrman – “Finale” (from “Citizen Kane”)

Roxy Music – “Love is the Drug”

Florence and the Machine – “Breaking Down”

Kamaal The Abstract – “Barely In Love (Instrumental)”

Kid Loco – “Flyin’ on 747”

Doughlas Jimerson – “Hail to the Chief”

Jelle Kuipers – “Orange”

She Keeps Bees – “Vulture”

Cass McCombs – “Robin Egg Blue”

John Cale – “(I Keep a) Close Watch”

Sharon van Etten – “Leonard”