Episode 163: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Molly Ringwald, and Takis

This Week: Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets physical and speaks French… Molly Ringwald offers etiquette advice for misfits and moms…The birth of swing music… Novelist Jonathan Evison updates Facebook’s profiles… David Wax Museum shares a list that cuts to the bone… We hear from a young reporter who was on the cutting edge of the Takis craze… and Rico drinks bees. Plus: The latest in sleep science, and a dreamy new track from rocker Ariel Pink.

Icebreaker: David Wax Museum

Suz Slezak of Mexo-Americana folk group David Wax Museum tries to catch a funny-bunny… twice.

Small Talk: Jessica Coen

Jessica Coen, editor-in-chief of women’s culture site Jezebel, tells us of a strange, sad time when college kids were clueless about Robert DeNiro and tan M&Ms. Oh wait; that time is now. (Check out other revelations on Beloit College’s annual “mindset list.”)

A History Lesson with Booze: The Birth of Swing and “The Hep Benny”

Turns out, “swing” wasn’t always the thing. When legendary bandleader Benny Goodman played it on his band’s first tour, audiences threw bottles at him. But that all changed on the last stop of his tour, at L.A.’s Palomar Ballroom on Aug 21, 1935. Hear why the City of Angels thought the new sound was the bomb, and then take a swig of this ultra-cool cocktail.

“The Hep Benny,” as conducted by Lindsay Mouat of R Bar in L.A, about a mile from where the Palomar Ballroom once stood.

In a cocktail shaker, with approx. 8 oz. of ice, add:

  • 1 oz Fresh Watermelon Puree (well-blended)
  • 1 oz Tellicherry Peppercorn Simple Syrup (see recipe far below)
  • 1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin

Shake to mix and chill (5-10 seconds). Strain mixture into champagne flute, & fill glass with champagne (about 2 oz). Work up sweat on dance floor and consume. Delicious in any time zone.

Tellicherry Peppercorn Syrup recipe:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 1/2 cup Baker’s Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Tellicherry Peppercorns

Place peppercorns in a cheesecloth package and smash to crack. In a sauce pan, add water & sugar, and stir. Set stove to high and add peppercorn package. Bring mixture to a soft, rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let peppercorns sit in cooling syrup for 15-20 minutes. Remove peppercorn package and allow syrup to cool.

Guest List: David Wax Museum

Mexo-Americana folk band David Wax Museum have won over crowds with their boisterous live shows and cross-border sound. Bandmates Greg Glassman, Suz Slezak and David Wax tell us about the oddest instrument in their arsenal – the “quijada del burro” – then list some other bands that resort to atypical instrumentation. DWM’s new album “Knock Knock Get Up” hits stores September 4th… meanwhile you can check out our exclusive in-studio recording of their tune “Chuchumbe” here.

Etiquette: Molly Ringwald

Teen sensation Molly Ringwald just released her very grown up book “When It Happens To You.” The “novel in stories” follows families in Southern California undergoing ‘betrayals’ – large and small – and it’s earning raves. Molly returns to The Dinner Party to share surprising advice about metal-head teens and needy friends.

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.

Eavesdropping: Jonathan Evison

Writer Jonathan Evison’s last novel “West of Here” garnered several awards and was a New York Times Bestseller. This week, he releases “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” about a man who’s lost everything… until he embarks on a road-trip for a disabled teen. Here’s an excerpt of protagonist Ben at his low point, using Facebook for some anti-social networking.

Chattering Class: Dream Science

David K. Randall, writer and diagnosed sleepwalker, shares some startling sleep facts from his new book “Dreamland: Adventures in the Science of Sleep.” Among them: how to get kids to bed, and how lightbulbs make us sleep wrong.

Main Course: Bees You Can Drink

You probably know mead as Renaissance fa(i)re, but the fermented honey drink is trickling into the mainstream. Folks are brewing it at home, it’s available more and more in stores, and this month America celebrated it’s tenth annual “Mead Day.” As summer winds down and honey-harvesting season approaches, William Bostwick, beekeeper and author of the upcoming book “The Brewer’s Tale”, tells Rico about mead… and about a special batch that took some guts to make. Secret ingredients: Every single thing in a beehive.

Extra Course: Takis

The viral video du jour is “Hot Cheetos and Takis,” by Y.N Rich Kids — a crew of grade-school hip-hoppers rhyming about their favorite junk foods. With the video racking up 1.5 million YouTube views and rising, news outlets everywhere spent this week asking “what the heck are Takis?” But not us… thanks to an interview we conducted years ago with a cub reporter for the 826LA Good Times who was way on top of the trend. We flashback… to 2009.

Guest of Honor: Joseph Gordon Levitt

In the 500 days since last summer, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has taken a stellar career to new heights. His turn in “50/50,” as a young adult faced with cancer, won far-ranging praise. Earlier this summer he played a pivotal role in mega-flick “The Dark Knight Rises.” And this fall you’ll find him in the sci-fi thriller “Looper” and a little Spielberg film called “Lincoln”; it arrives in November laden with Oscar buzz. This week, though, he’s starring in “Premium Rush,” in which he plays a bike messenger hounded by a dirty NYC cop. He tells Brendan about how roles can be scarring – and healing – and about his eternal debt to public radio. Then he waxes poetic…about snails.

One for the Road: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Only In My Dreams”

Odd pop-savant Ariel Pink and his band Haunted Graffiti release a new album this week called “Mature Themes.” Here’s a track from it called “Only In My Dreams” — best heard while watching super-8 films of your first crush.

Other Music In this Week’s Show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Girl/Boy Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Benny Goodman – “Bumble Bee Stomp”

Course of Empire – “Infested (Goodman/Darwin Mix)”

Renegades of Jazz – “Hooked On Swing”

The Low Anthem – “Sally Where’d You Get Your Liquor From?”

Eric Royer – “Train on the Island”

Carolina Chocolate Drops – “Cornbread & Butterbeans”

David Wax Museum – “Chuchumbe”

The Rave-Ups – “Positively Lost Me”

Johann Strauss – “Wine Women & Song”

Languis feat. Nobody – “A Simple Thought”

School Of Seven Bells – “Half Asleep”

Of Montreal – “So Begins Our Alabee”

Y.N. Rich Kids – “Hot Cheetos & Takis”

Levek – “French Lessons”

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti -“Only In My Dreams”