Episode 160: Rashida Jones, LeVar Burton, and Parody Picks

This Week: Actress Rashida Jones plays matchmaker… “Reading Rainbow“‘s LeVar Burton wields a knife – with discernment… Comic Paul Scheer’s parody picks… Les Savy Fav bassist Syd Butler talks hockey, Joy division and secret identities… We speak — and drink — Esperanto… author Ariel S. Winter channels 3 crime-lit legends… and Rico eats the best Pop Tart ever. Plus: the death of chivalry and a pop lullaby from The Babies.

Icebreaker: Cassie Ramone

Cassie Ramone of indie band Vivian Girls proves that transcendentalists party, too. (Cassie’s about to release a new album with her side project, The Babies. You’ll hear a piece of it at the end of the show.)

Small Talk: Reyhan Harmanci

Culture website Buzzfeed’s west coast editor Reyhan Harmanci explains why male mores haven’t sunk to a new low… they’ve just always been low.

A History Lesson with Booze: Doktoro Esperanto and the “Zamenhof Fizz

This week in 1887, linguophile L.L. Zamenhof completed his decade-in-the-making magnum opus: the “Lingvo Internacia” — a universal language that came to be called Esperanto. Toast the world’s most-spoken “constructed” language with a border-smashing cocktail:

THE ZAMENHOF FIZZ, as created for the DPD by Jonathan Pogash, director of cocktail development at NYC’s World Bar, across the street from the U.N. Headquarters:

To a cocktail shaker add:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Chopin Potato Vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Rothman and Winter Apricot liqueur
  • hint of fresh lemon juice
  • hint of cane syrup

Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Top off with splash of ginger beer (the all-important fizz). Rim the edge with spicy cane sugar. Revel in the harmonious interaction of ingredients. Trink ĝi pace! You’re now speaking the international language of tipsy.

Guest List: Paul Scheer

Comedian Paul Scheer stars in the TV show “The League” on FX and hosts the podcast “How Did This Get Made,” which takes bad movies and turns them into hilarious chats (iTunes named it the best new comedy podcast of 2011). Paul’s also the mastermind behind the Adult Swim series “NTSF:SD:SUV” – a parody of the CSI-esque cop shows. To celebrate his show’s second-season premiere (this week on Adult Swim), Paul offers up this list of favorite parodies.

Guest of Honor: Rashida Jones

Actress Rashida Jones has starred in TV shows like “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office.” She’s appeared in the movies “I Love You Man,” and “The Social Network.” This week she stars in “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” which she also scripted with writing partner Will McCormack. Rashida tells Brendan about the heyday of the rom-com(dram) and Apatow males… then she plays matchmaker.

Eavesdropping: Syd Butler’s Dog Days

Syd Butler plays bass for adored New York indie band Les Savy Fav. He just published his first humor book, called (ahem) “Who Farted Wrong?” Today he tells us the true, dinner party-worthy tale that inspired one of the stories (which you can hear at Volume 1 Brooklyn’s occasional “The Greatest 3-Minute Story…” series: killer stories told by culture notables.)

Main Course: Top Tarts

This week the L.A. County Museum of Art opened a new coffee shop called C+M (“Coffee and Milk”), where they sell a handmade pastry version of pop tarts. And thus, another one-time junk food gets the royal treatment. Rico, a longtime devourer of the venerable snack, ran over to sample the new creations…and learned some pop tart history from pastry chef Josh Graves.

Etiquette: LeVar Burton

If Earth ever DID send a delegation to greet an alien planet, we’d nominate LeVar Burton as ambassador-in-chief. The affable actor/producer starred in the award-winning ’70s TV miniseries “Roots” (as Kunta Kinte), and later in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (as the VISOR-equipped Geordi La Forge). But LeVar might be best known as the host and creative force behind “Reading Rainbow,” PBS’ long running children’s series. LeVar tells us about his new venture: turning the show into an interactive iPad APP(just released this June)… Then tackles our listeners’ questions about borrowed hardbacks and the vicissitudes of sci-fi nerd-dom.

We’re always looking for new etiquette questions. Would you be so kind as to send them to dinnerparty@americanpublicmedia.org? Thank you very much.

Chattering Class: Ariel S. Winter’s Noir Notes

This week, writer Ariel S. Winter releases his hotly-tipped debut noir crime novel The Twenty-Year Death. It’s essentially three novels in one, each written in the style of a different legendary writer: George Simenon (1930s), Raymond Chandler (1940s), and Jim Thompson (1950s). Ariel gives Rico a crash course in the three authors… and a sample of how he channeled each.

One for the Road: The Babies – “Moonlight Mile”

The Babies – are an indie-rock Voltron formed from parts of the Vivian Girls and the band Woods. They have a new 7” coming out on Woodsist records in a couple of weeks. The song is called “Moonlight Mile“… no relation to the Rolling Stones song.

Other Music In this Week’s Show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

The Wedding Present – “Signal”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Andrew Hewitt – “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” theme

Vince Guaraldi – “Trio Skating”

Joy Division – “24 Hours Instrumental”

New Order – “Bizarre Love Triangle”

Tornadoes – “Pop Art Goes Mozart”

Jimmy Fallon (as Jim Morrison) – “Reading Rainbow”

Elmer Bernstein – “the Grifters”

The Babies – “Moonlight Mile”