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Episode 182: The Best of 2012

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This week, a look back at our best moments of 2012: Jon Hamm dives into dark matter… Ed Asner answers your etiquette questions (and his cellphone)… We toast a historic Niagara fall… Folk rock icon Rodriguez rises from the dead… Alison Pill (“The Newsroom”) lists her favorite behind-the-scenes stories… Ramblin’ man Todd Snider recalls his brush with Nascar celebrity… And country singer Iris DeMent takes us home with a dinner party soundtrack…Plus “pretzel dumplings,” lucky underwear, and an OCD joke from James Franco.

Icebreaker: James Franco
Actor and artist James Franco kicks things off in the most orderly fashion possible.

Small Talk Redux – Twenty Tiny Talks
We revisit the best little moments of 2012 Small Talks, from ‘diphthongs’ to pizza buttons to dogTV.

A History Lesson with Booze: A Historic Niagara Fall and “Annie Edson’s Barrel Margarita”
On October 24th, 1903, Annie Edson Taylor packed herself into a barrel and bobbed over America’s most famous waterfall. Learn why… then calm your nerves with this custom cocktail, straight from the source.

“Annie Edson’s Barrel Margarita,” as dropped upon us by Soso Sookram, manager of Shoeless Joe’s in Niagara Falls, ON:

Blend with ice:

  • 4 oz. Lime Mix
  • 1.5 oz. Tequila
  • 1.5 oz. Triple Sec

Pour the mixture into barrel-shaped mug (or best equivalent). Then turn a Coronita bottle upside-down in the mug, allowing the beer to fall and the suds to churn at the bottom of the cocktail. Avoid drinking near precipitous heights.

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 year, she costarred in another Woody Allen film, “To Rome With Love,” AND 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:

Guests of Honor: Five Things We Didn’t Know
We play back a few mind-blowing moments from 2012 guests of honor: Jon Hamm riffs the mysteries of matter (and man), Anjelica Huston reveals her lucky charms, breakout British comedian Simon Amstell finds Jesus in America, James Franco shuns bed-time, and The Shins’ James Mercer goes nuclear.

Eavesdropping: Todd Snider
Acclaimed musician Todd Snider is known for his folk-rock tunes… and for his onstage stories. Today we overhear him telling one about his brother’s hero: Nascar driver Bill Elliott. (Todd is on tour now in support his two 2012 albums Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables and Time as We Know It:The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker.)

Chattering Class: Searching for Sugar Man
In 1970, an enigmatic Detroit musician named Rodriguez released a folk-rock album hyped by industry players as better than Dylan… and which was ignored by the public. The new documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” tells the incredible story of what happened next… including a Rodriguez resurrection in the most unlikely of places: South Africa. Director Malik Bendjelloul — and the musician himself — joined Rico to talk about the wild ride. (The documentary film and soundtrack are available now.)

Main Course: Pretzel Dumplings
The “pretzel dumpling” slams together two cultures – and two comfort foods – and the result is artery-cloggingly delicious. Think Asian dumplings, with a golden buttery pretzel wrapping. Brendan couldn’t get enough on his first visit to Brooklyn’s Talde restaurant – so he came back for seconds…and a chat with the pretzel dumpling’s creator, Chef Dale Talde.

Etiquette: Ed Asner
Film and TV legend Ed Asner won over legions of fans with his character Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its socially-oriented spin-off “Lou Grant.” He’s also starred in projects ranging from “Roots” to the animated Pixar hit “Up.” This month, he performs alongside Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon in the Broadway drama “Grace.” Ed fills us in on his new role, then fields some listener etiquette questions… and personal calls.

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.

Dinner Party Soundtrack: Iris DeMent
Iris DeMent’s debut album “‘Infamous Angel” was called one of the “Essential Recordings of the Nineties” by Rolling Stone magazine. She’s sung duets with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and, most famously, John Prine. Now she’s released her first album of new material in sixteen years; “Sing the Delta” has garnered wide-ranging praise. Iris graciously offers up some musical suggestions for a close-to-home dinner party.

Other Music In this Week’s Show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Debussy – “Dialogue du vent et de la mer”

Tortoise – “The Suspension Bridge at Iquaza Falls”

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

Fleetwood Mac – “Don’t Stop”

Memoryhouse – “To the Lighthouse”

The Pogues – “Wild Cats Of Kilkenny”

Bill Frisell – “Pipe Down”

Les Paul – “Guitar Boogie”

Todd Snider – “In Between Jobs”

Rodriguez – “Sugar Man

Rodriguez – “I Wonder”

Link Wray – “Fatback”

Lady Gaga – “Telephone” (Instrumental)

Willie Nelson – “Come On Up To The House”

Mahalia Jackson – “How I Got Over”

Aretha Franklin – “How I Got Over”

Greg Brown – “The Cheapest Kind”

Iris DeMent – “Go on Ahead and Go Home”