Episode 140: Ewan McGregor, Pretzel Dumplings, and Happy Endings

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This week: Actor Ewan McGregor, in three dimensions… “Happy Endings” star Casey Wilson’s (semi) happy endings… Youth Lagoon’s dinner party soundtrack… A ‘psychic’ reading from Heidi Julavits… The best sushi chef in the world… Pretzel dumplings… How “Uranus” got its name… And next-gen Posts teach us about table fairies. Plus: drinkable pancakes, Irish jokes, a w-h-i-z-k-i-d, and much more.

Icebreaker: Ransom Riggs

Ransom Riggs, author of the bestselling young-adult novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, tells us a joke that befits an (outdoor) St. Patty’s party.

Small Talk: Jessica Coen

Jessica Coen, editor-in-chief of women’s culture site Jezebel, tells us about a 6-year-old girl whose spelling talent is p-r-o-d-i-g-i-o-u-s.

A History Lesson With Booze: Planet “Herschel” and “The Astronaughties’ Deep Space Freeze”

On March 13th, 1781, famed astronomer Sir William Herschel was using a homemade telescope in his backyard… when he spotted what he thought was a comet. Turned out it was the first new planet to be discovered since the days of ancient Greece and Rome. 70 years later, Earthlings finally settled on a name for the new world: “Uranus.” And 228 years later, it has inspired us to get a little tipsy with this cocktail:

“The Astronaughties’ Deep Space Freeze,” as scoped out by Dan Boggs at A+ bar in Houston, TX:

In a shaker with ice, combine:

  • 1.5 oz. of Ten Cane rum
  • dash of maple syrup
  • dash of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 barspoonfuls of blueberry puree or concentrate

Shake well, until cold as deep space. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with miniature blue planets, aka “blueberries.”

Dinner Party Soundtrack: Trevor Powers, a.k.a. Youth Lagoon

Boise native Trevor Powers plays electro-indie music under the pseudonym “Youth Lagoon.” His album Year of Hibernation landed on many best-of lists last year, and he’s just kicking off a two-month tour. This week, in fact, he rocked eight shows at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin. Here are his picks for your own private music conference:

  • “For the Sake of the Song” by Townes Van Zandt
  • “Baby’s Romance” by Chris Garneau
  • “Goodies” by Ciara (feat. Petey Pablo)

Etiquette: The Posts

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning (great-great-grandkids of Emily Post) are aces at demystifying the realm of etiquette; in fact, they wrote the book on it. So we listen with rapt attention as they FINALLY explain why we can’t rest our elbows on the table, what to do about projectile food, and warn about the dangers of dealing with unwanted PDA.

Eavesdropping: Heidi Julavits

Author Heidi Julavits is co-founder of the magazine The Believer. Her imaginative new novel “The Vanishers” centers on a rivalry between two psychics. Since we can’t read Heidi’s mind, we do the next best thing and overhear her reading a few dinner-party-worthy excerpts.

Chattering Class: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

86-year-old Jiro Ono is widely considered the world’s best sushi chef. He works in an unassuming office building in Tokyo, but he creates masterful — and pricey — works of culinary art. The much-acclaimed new documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (out now in LA/NY) profiles Ono’s restaurant and his drive for perfection. Rico asks director David Gelb to teach us what makes his sushi so sublime.

Here’s a Web Extra: Gelb lists his favorite NYC sushi joints… and recalls another legendary chef’s Jiro-centric retirement plans.

Main Course: Pretzel Dumplings

The “pretzel dumpling” slams together two cultures – and two comfort foods – and the result is artery-cloggingly delicious. Think Asian dumplings, with a golden buttery pretzel wrapping. Brendan couldn’t get enough on his first visit to Brooklyn’s Talde restaurant – so he came back for seconds…and a chat with the pretzel dumpling’s creator, Chef Dale Talde.

Guest of Honor: Ewan McGregor

Few actors have done more stellar work in the last 15 years than Scotsman Ewan McGregor…From his raw breakthrough in Trainspotting to the madcap musical Moulin Rouge to last year’s winning indie romance, Beginners, Ewan’s made a career of playing wildly different parts. (There’s also that tiny role as a Jedi mentor in three Star Wars films.) His new film, the romantic comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, hurls Ewan and co-star Emily Blunt into a harebrained venture in the Middle East. Ewan chats with Rico about three-dimensional characters, sleazy spin-doctors, and his moto-adventures on Siberia’s Road of Bones.

Guest List: Casey Wilson’s Favorite Endings

Actress and comedian Casey Wilson has brought down the house with sketches at Upright Citizens Brigade and SNL. Now she stars as Penny in the acclaimed TV comedy “Happy Endings.” Its second season ends in a few weeks. With all of these endings in the ether, she offers up a list of her favorites. (Spoiler alert!)

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Sir William Herschel – “Chamber Symphony In F Major: III. Allegro ma non molto”

The Notwist – “Another Planet”

Slowdive – “Souvlaki Space Station”

Townes Van Zandt – “For the Sake of the Song”

Chris Garneau – “Baby’s Romance”

Ciara (feat. Petey Pablo) -“Goodies”

Eagles of Death Metal – “Anything ‘Cept the Truth”

“Violin Sonata No. 13 in Bb Major K.454 mvt. III – Allegretto”

Psychic U-turn – “Vermont Carve”

Like A Goodnight Kiss – “Seasick”

Radiohead – “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”

Link Wray – “Fatback”

The Rumble Strips: Motorcycle

Quincy Jones – “Theme to ‘Oprah’”

Diane Keaton – “Seems Like Old Times”