Episode 191: Laura Dern, Billy Bragg, and Bite-Sized Giants

Laura Dern - Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

This week: “Enlightened” actress Laura Dern on brains and Baio… Folk-rocker Billy Bragg wins hearts and minds in our etiquette segment… They Might Be Giants list tiny gems… We toast the first man(nequin!) in space… The story behind SXSW, as told by the festival’s co-founder… Indie musician Tracey Thorn finds her voice… Plus, build-your-own hotels, cocktails by the barrel-ful, Side of the Road music, and lots more.

A Groan-Worthy Joke from Nick Krill


Nick Krill, frontman for the Spinto Band, has a joke that’s a shoe-in for a groan. (His band just released the album “Cool Cocoon.”)

Reyhan Harmanci on staying in Europe on the cheap

Small Talk

New Euro budget hotels where you might just have to make your own beds…and desks… and…

Ivan Ivanovich and The Splash Down

A History Lesson With Booze ®

This week back in 1961, Ivan Ivanovich became the first man in space. Or rather, the first mannequin in space. Learn about this state-of-the-art dummy, and then toast his successes with this custom cocktail.

They Might Be Giants Keep it Short & Sweet

Guest List

Grammy-winning duo They Might Be Giants (John Flansburgh and John Linnell) have been churning out catchy, smart tunes since 1986 - for both adults and on several albums for kids. Their 16th album “Nanobots” (out this week) features a whopping 25 songs in just 45 minutes. To celebrate the less-is-more idea, they suggest a few other tiny gems.

Laura Dern on Lynch's Brain and Leisure Suits

Guest of Honor

Actor Laura Dern has wowed audiences in everything from the “Jurassic Park” blockbusters to independent gems like “Citizen Ruth,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Wild at Heart.” Her latest performance - the lead in HBO’s dramedy “Enlightened” - has earned raves, and netted her a Golden Globe. Brendan chats with Laura about the show’s rising political consciousness, David Lynch’s brains, and Scott Baio’s leisure suit.

Indie Queen Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl) finds her voice


British singer Tracey Thorn has recorded hits with the duo Everything But The Girl and in collaboration with acts like Massive Attack. More recently she’s released a couple of solo albums, like 2012’s Tinsel and Lights.) Tracey’s new memoir “Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star” covers her decades-long career in punk and pop. Today we overhear a tale about the time she found her voice.

The pros and cons of cocktails on tap

Main Course

Not every craft cocktail is best made right when you order it. At bars like The Eveleigh, mixed drinks are being aged in barrels and poured out of taps - and the compliments are flowing.

Folk-rocker Billy Bragg Carries your Burdens


Billy Bragg, the 'Sherpa of Heartbreak,' spills on playing Trivial Pursuit with Joey Ramone - and gamely answers your (non-trivial) questions.

The 411 on SXSW

Chattering Class

Every March, crowds in the hundreds of thousands flock to Austin, Texas for the arts festival South-by-Southwest. Co-founder Louis Black chats with Rico about why it caught fire, the tears that fuel the fest, and a memorable close-up with Johnny Cash.

Big Black Delta - 'Side of the Road”'

One For The Road

If the British rock group Electric Light Orchestra had a grandchild, chances are it would sound like Big Black Delta - the solo musical project from musician Jonathan Bates. Here’s a tantalizing tease of Delta’s forthcoming album - it’s called “Side of the Road.”

Playlist: Episode 191


All the songs from this week's episode.