Episode 154: Benh Zeitlin, All-American Etiquette, and the Automat

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Behn Zeitlin/Courtesy Fox Searchlight

This week: Filmmaker Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) paints with an axe… Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain swear they can answer your etiquette questions peacefully… Actress Alison Pill, of Aaron Sorkin’s new show “The Newsroom,” takes us behind-the-scenes… New Yorker receptionist Janet Groth reflects on (almost) being Mrs. John Berryman… Lunching at the ‘Automat’…Plus, doubled data, a summer fashion preview, and a soundtrack from playful pop band Micachu and the Shapes.

Icebreaker: Alison Pill

Actress Alison Pill’s acting career has legs…even if her joke doesn’t. Catch her in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” and Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” (both premiering this weekend)…and stay tuned for Alison’s Guest List.

Small Talk: Reyhan Harmanci

Buzzfeed editor Reyhan Harmanci tells us about Apple’s new patent, which allows it to clone us.

A History Lesson with Booze: The Throne Stone of Scone and “The Kelvin Car Bomb

This week back in 1996, the British government announced the Stone of Scone was going home. The Stone, a 340-pound sandstone block, sat on a shelf within Britain’s coronation chair for 700 years… much to the chagrin of the Scots, from whom it was taken back in the 13th century. Toast its return with this Scottish take on the classic “car bomb” cocktail…as prepared by a guy named Hans in Texas.

“The Kelvin Car Bomb”, as crowned by Hans Gerner, owner of The Kelvin Arms in Houston, TX.

In a pint glass pour:

  • 1/2 pint Belhaven Scottish Ale

In a separate shot glass, combine:

  • 1 oz. Scotch
  • 1 oz. Drambuie

Drop the shot glass in the pint glass, chug, get stoned.

Guest List: Alison Pill

In her young career, Actress Alison Pill has already turned in a string of distinctive characters. She’s played the disaffected drummer in Scott Pilgrim’s band, and two real-life legends: gay-rights trailblazer Anne Kronenberg (“Milk”) and flapper par excellence Zelda Fitzgerald (“Midnight in Paris”). This weekend, she returns to the big screen in another Woody Allen film, “To Rome With Love,” AND she co-stars in HBO’s series “The Newsroom.” Here she is to tell us about that Aaron Sorkin venture…and her other favorite behind-the-scenes stories:


Etiquette: Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain

With election season entering its home stretch, the gulf between opposing political views is widening. For help, we turn to liberal funnyman Michael Ian Black and conservative commentator Meghan McCain, who recently embarked on a cross-country road trip together…and survived. They write about it in their new book “America, You Sexy Bitch” (out this month), and they offer our listeners some gosh-darned sensible advice about everything from Hannity to profanity.

Eavesdropping: Janet Groth

For twenty-one years, Janet Groth sat at the epicenter of the literary universe… as the receptionist for The New Yorker magazine. In her new memoir, “The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker” (out June 26) she offers striking, personal accounts of some of the greatest writers of the sixties and seventies, including Muriel Spark, E.B. White, and Calvin Trillin. Today, we overhear Janet reading an excerpt about a poetically sad proposal.

Chattering Class: Aya Kanai

Stylist Aya Kanai (Nylon, Teen Vogue) ushers in the first day of summer by giving Brendan a primer on 2012 summertime fashion. Apparently, Hawaiian shirt-like prints, modest swimwear, and “flat-form” shoes will be arriving with the heat. But beware! With great comfort…comes great responsibility.

Main Course: Lunching at the Automat

It’s hard to believe, but once you could get a fresh, delicious lunch just by popping a nickel into a machine. The “Automat,” as it was called, was the centerpiece of the Horn and Hardart restaurant chain. They launched their first one in Philadelphia, but the idea really took off when one appeared in New York City (almost a hundred years ago this week.) The last Automat stopped working decades ago, but lucky for us the New York Public Library has restored a classic Automat as part of a brand new exhibition called “Lunch Hour.” One of the curators, culinary historian Laura Shapiro, joined Brendan to talk about the convenient contraption.

Guest of Honor: Benh Zeitlin

Benh Zeitlin’s debut feature “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” managed the rare trick of winning both the Grand Jury Award at Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes (awarded for best first feature) — it opens in theaters this week. The fabulous, fable-like story follows a young girl called Hushpuppy as she grapples with private – and cosmic – cataclysms, in a place much like Louisiana. Behn tells Rico about crafting a real physical place, discovering bugs that tremble, and casting his fierce young star Quvenzhane Wallis.

One for the Road: Micachu and the Shapes – “OK”

The experimental pop band Micachu and The Shapes offers an unusual take on our usual soundtrack, and then we tune into a herky-jerky track that’s more than OK, though that’s what it’s called. Catch it on the band’s July release, “Never.”

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Brian McNeill – “The Atlantic Reels”

Bright Eyes – “Another Travelin’ Song”

John Barry – “007”

Georges Delerue: “Day For Night” (City Of Prague Philharmonic Orch.)

Fleetwood Mac – “Don’t Stop”

Memoryhouse – “To the Lighthouse”

(International) Noise Conspiracy – “I Swear If U Do”

George Gershwin – “Mine” (Zubin Mehta & The New York Philharmonic)

George Gershwin – “Do, Do, Do” (Zubin Mehta & The New York Philharmonic)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 23 (II. Adagio)

Nino Rota – “Amarcord”

Irving Berlin – “Lunching at the Automat”

Public Transport – “Fashion Explosion”

Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? – “Don’t Cry”

Micachu and the Shapes – “OK”