Episode 152: Stephen Merchant, Demon Children, and The War on Drugs

Photo by Carolyn Dyanolgy/Stephen Merchant

This week: We revisit one of our favorite episodes”The Office” co-creator Stephen Merchant spars with Brendan… fashion guru Simon Doonan advocates mullets… humorists Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel (attempt to) read their epic epilogue… The soundtrack of The War on Drugs… Artist Chris Burden’s slot-cars on steroids… And Rico digs into Frito Pie. Plus: silent senators, devil children in film,illin’ crosswords, and far-out jokes.

Icebreaker: Girls

Christopher Owens, lead singer of the band Girls (on tour now), laments a hippie lost at sea.

Small Talk: Reyhan Harmanci

Reyhan Harmanci, cuture editor at San Francisco’s Bay Citizen, tells us why one of Will Shortz’s recent crossword clues was illin…and she means that in the most ambiguous of ways.

A History Lesson With Booze: Senator Caraway and the Hattie Bo Baddy

This week back in 1932, an Arkansas housewife suddenly became the first elected female Senator in U.S. history…and that was the easy part. Learn all about the woman reporters called “Silent Hattie,” and then toast her memory with a blend of potent southern poisons that’ll leave you speechless.
Hattie Bo Baddy, as created for the DPD by Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA:

In a mixing glass full of ice, add:

  • 1.5 oz Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • .5 oz Wasmunds Rye Spirit
  • 1.25 oz caraway honey syrup*
  • dash of Peychaud bitters
  • squeeze of Lemon Wedge

Stir for one minute. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a honey comb on a skewer. Drink silently while defying expectations.

Caraway honey syrup recipe:

  • 16 oz. Honey
  • 16 oz. Water
  • 1 Tbsp. caraway Seeds

Combine honey and water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. While boiling mixture, using a mortar and pestle grind caraway seeds, then toast in a saute pan until they turn golden brown. Add to the honey mixture and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain caraway seeds through a fine sieve, and let cool.

Guest List: Ezra Miller’s Bad Seeds

Cinema history is littered with possessed folks (see: this year’s panned box office success The Devil Inside), but demonic kids seem to make an especially lasting impression. Rising star Ezra Miller, who plays the titular malevolent teen in the new film We Need to Talk about Kevin, talks about why we’re enthralled by evil kids… and lists a few other big-screen “bad seeds” we should watch out for. (You can catch Ezra later this year in the film adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower.)

Guest of Honor: Stephen Merchant

Writer-comedian Stephen Merchant stands tall in real life… and in the British comedy landscape. He co-created the TV shows The Office, Extras, and the upcoming (on HBO) Lifes’ Too Short… all with a certain Golden Globe Awards host. He’s now launching the US leg of his wildly successful stand up show “Hello Ladies,” which focuses on his difficulties with the fairer sex. Stephen tells Brendan about international Offices, confessional comedy, and a certain Rocky relationship.

Eavesdropping: Dave Berry and Alan Zweibel

Humor heavyweights Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel have just released the “improvised” novel Lunatics. In keeping with the lunacy, they jump straight to the end of the book — and attempt to read an excerpt.

High Speed Art: Chris Burden

Chris Burden exploded onto the art scene in the early ’70s with a series of unsettling performance pieces that forced audiences to consider the fine line between art and immorality, and (often) man and machine. He’s been shot, crucified on a car, and he has crawled through broken glass. But in recent years he’s turned to giant installation pieces that run the gamut from charming to awe-inspiring to ominous. His latest is kind of a combination of the three – a miniature city called “Metropolis II” that’s simultaneously a kid’s train-set dream-come-true… and a vision of city life which Burden says caused viewers “extreme anxiety” in its early incarnations. The exhibition opens this weekend at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Last year, Rico visited the work-in-progress, learned about Chris’ dream career, and why he wants everyone to take their hands off the steering wheel.

Etiquette: Simon Doonan

Brit-born style savant Simon Doonan made waves in the US by dressing the windows at department store Barney’s New York. He remains a creative “ambassador” for the high-end store, but you can also find him as a fashion prognosticator on TV and in his wildly popular books. His new satirical guide, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, offers hilarious tips on staying fit and fabulous, so we asked him to address our listener’s etiquette questions. With a soupcon of pink and lots of enthusiasm, you can make anything work.

Main Course: Frito Pie

Frito pie is a humble street food, assembled in a bag of Frito chips. But now it’s the talk of haute cuisine: Saveur magazine just put it on its annual list of 100 trendy food items… and star French chef Daniel Boulud recently proclaimed his love of the dish. Rico digs into a crunchy, creamy bagful with Briana Valdez of Comal, a pop-up (soon to be brick-and-mortar) food project that serves Texan cuisine and “the best Frito pie in L.A.”

Soundtrack: The War on Drugs

Philadelphia rock outfit The War on Drugs revels in languid riffs and lyrical storytelling; think of them as troubadours in the 21st century. Their sophomore album Slave Ambient debuted to raves last year, and they drop a 7” next week. Groove to frontman Adam Granduciel’s dinner party soundtrack, and then hear how the songs inform his slow-burning gem “Best Night”.


Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Hal Kemp – “I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In A Five and Ten Cent Store)”

Pavement – “Silence Kit”

Elmer Bernstein – “Dog Chase/Killing The Dog” (from “The Good Son”)

Baris Balci – “Carmina Burana” remix

Bill Conti – “Gonna Fly Now”

Elmer Bernstein – “Main Titles” (from “Animal House”)

Elvis Costello – “God’s Comic”

Pink Mochi – “Syntax”

The Cobramatics – “Puddings and Pies”

The Waterboys – “A Pagan Place”

Blues Control – “Migration”

Roxy Music – “2 H. B.”