Episode 149: Richard Linklater, Christopher Buckley, and Independent Spirits

Photo courtesy of the artist/Richard Linklater

This week: Acclaimed filmmaker Richard Linklater takes us behind “the Pine Curtain”… Satirist Christopher Buckley on international (etiquette) relations… Actor Rich Sommer goes Mad about board games… Brooklyn band Violens cues up a dinner party soundtrack… Brendan sips indie spirits… We toast Spider-Dan’s [sic] epic climb… Three hysterical histories… Plus, sexy literary hoaxes, humor from troubadour Todd Snider, and a listener letter – from a dolphin.

Icebreaker: Todd Snider

Musician and raconteur Todd Snider jokes about how his cronies need pizza… and dough. His new album is called Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker.

Small Talk: Sadie Stein

Sadie Stein, deputy editor of The Paris Review, tells us about the late Mike McGrady and his “sexy” literary hoax.

A History Lesson with Booze: Spider-Dan and “Trumped”

On Memorial Day, 1981, Dan Goodwin did some climbing. Which sounds normal enough for a guy who was a rock climber… except his target was the surface of the (then) tallest building in the world – Chicago’s Sears Tower — and he scaled it dressed as Spider-Man. Hear his tale, then climb into this custom cocktail named after a recent addition to the Chicago skyline.

“Trumped,” as built by Nandini Khaund of The Violet Hour in Chicago, IL:

In a shaker, add:

  • 1 oz. Mezcal Vida
  • 1 oz. Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. lilac-black pepper simple syrup (or standard simple will do)
  • 1 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 oz. 1 egg white
  • soda water
  • 8 drops Laphroaig Scotch

Pour all ingredients except Scotch and soda into shaker, and “mime shake” (shake w/out ice) for a few minutes. Add ice, shake vigorously a few more minutes. Strain into Collins glass, add soda, then spoon the remaining foam from the shaker into the glass. Add 8 drops Laphroaig on top. Admire your tall and intimidating drink, and try not to get dizzy.

Guest List: Charlie Schroeder

Charlie Schroeder’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the “Best American Sports Writing” anthology, and the late great public radio show Weekend America. His first book, Man of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment, comes out next week. He tells us about what he learned from traipsing through the past…and then gives us a list of three of his favorite hysterical historical works.

The 2,000 Year-Old-Man, by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner
Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horowitz
Blackadder, by Richard Curtis, Rowan Atkinson and Ben Elton

Etiquette: Christopher Buckley

Satirist Christopher Buckley has lampooned life, politics, and culture in a dozen acclaimed books, including the recent bestseller Thank You For Smoking. He’s also the author of the memoir Losing Mum and Pup, in which he reflects on his mother Patricia and his father William, the late founder of modern American conservative thinking. Buckley’s new venture They Eat Puppies, Don’t They (out this month) tackles the strained relations between the U.S. and China, to hilarious effect. We ask the diplomatic writer to counsel us about dog food, smoking currency, and the Icelandic dish Anthony Bourdain described as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing.”

Chattering Class: Rich Sommer, Mad about Board Games

Rich Sommer holds a day job at the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency — he plays Mad Men’s awkward, bespectacled Harry Crane. Starting this weekend, he returns to his stage roots for the the new, hotly-anticipated Broadway rendition of Harvey (which started previews this week). But in addition to playing characters… Sommer plays board games. In fact, according to his game-geek blog, he field-tested 261 different ones last year alone. Rich tells Rico why he’s addicted, schools him on the latest game trends, and explains why “roll and move” is the last thing any self-respecting gamer would ever deign to do.

Letters: You!

We empty the mailbag and voicemail inbox, highlighting your input on dirt-cheap caviar, ‘under the table’ dealings, and drunk dialing. Also, a dolphin chimes in via the internet. No matter what your state of mind – or your species – you can contact us anytime using the contact tab (above). Or call the Dinner Party hotline… AKA the phone at Brendan’s cubicle… it’s 213-621-3554.

Main Course: Indie Spirits

The Indie Spirits Expo happened this week in Manhattan — picture a sort of Sundance Film Festival for people who make alcohol. It’s a prime opportunity for independent distillers to show off their wares and hopefully find distribution. And, as in the film industry, indie alcohol producers usually make quirkier stuff than the big beverage companies. Brendan dropped by the event to soberly report on the latest tipples.

Guest of Honor: Richard Linklater

Filmmaker Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” — a leisurely, stream-of-consciousness look at a day in the life of Austin, TX’s underemployed — was one of the defining moments of 90s indie cinema. Since then, he’s made everything from cult classics like “Dazed and Confused” to the animated sci-fi “A Scanner Darkly” to the thoughtful romances “Before Sunrise/Before Sunset” and the crowd-pleasing “School of Rock.” Richard’s latest, “Bernie,” (out now) reunites him with Jack Black for a can’t-believe-it’s-true crime comedy set in his native East Texas. Richard tells Rico about nice murderers, our tiny place in an expanding universe, and the crazy things that happen behind “the pine curtain.”

Soundtrack: Violens

Brooklyn-based trio Violens plays indie pop…with an edge befitting its name. This week, they just released a new album “True” (Slumberland Records). After we listen in on their sweet album opener “Totally True,” bandmates Jorge Elbrecht and Iddo Arad share a soundtrack for a dark and stormy dinner party.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Spunkshine – “Building a Grand Theory”

Butterglory – “Boy Burning Down”

Dave Grusin – “Ascension to Virginity”

Spike Jones New Band – “Harlem Nocturne”

The New American Brass Band – “Parade”

Howard Goodall – “Theme from Blackadder”

Propellerheads feat. Shirley Bassey – “History Repeating”

Duke Ellington – “Dinner with Friends”

Dead J – “Game Attack”

Janet Jackson – “Call On Me”

Glitch Mob – “We Swarm”

Nico Carstens – “Die Graskop Polka” (aka “Skokiaan”)

Violens – “TotallyTrue”

Revolving Paint Dream – “Stop The World”

Night Jewel – “In The Dark”

Dead Can Dance – “Anywhere Out Of The World”

Ice Choir – “Afar”