Episode 209: Herb Alpert, Chuck Klosterman, and Big Stars

This week: Writer Chuck Klosterman grapples with villains…   Music legend Herb Alpert grapples with your etiquette questions… Comedian Tig Notaro learns a lesson after losing her wisdom teeth… Filmmaker Drew DiNicola tells us why cult rockers Big Star never quite lived up to their name… Documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker does call it a comeback… The Frenchman behind the bikini instigates some navel-gazing… and Indie-metal darlings Deafheaven’s party playlist gets a little loud.  Plus: The fight to symbolize “the”… and we crunch the numbers (and cucumbers) behind the McWrap.

Et Tu Bruce is Honestly Amusing


Jamie White and Matthew O'Toole, of London retro-pop band Et Tu Brucé, do a good job telling a joke... about how to *not* get a job.

When Writing Out 'The' is Just Too Much...

Small Talk

Sadie Stein, Deputy Editor of The Paris Review, witnesses the birth of a new typographic symbol - a sort of ampersand for the word 'the'- which may be headed to a keyboard near you.

The Birth of the Bikini

A History Lesson With Booze ®

This week back in 1946, Frenchman Louis Reard dropped an explosive new invention on the unsuspecting world: the bikini. Learn the sizzling story, then cool down with a two-part drink direct from Paris.

Lucy Walker on Comebacks ... with Complications

Guest List

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker's newest documentary, The Crash Reel, is about snowboarder Kevin Pearce who was side-lined from the sport after a devastating crash. Pearce desperately wants to get back on a board - even though it could mean risking his life. We asked Ms. Walker to list some other come-back stories.

Chuck Klosterman, Evil Mastermind

Guest of Honor

Essayist, critic, novelist and New York Times "Ethicist" Chuck Klosterman posits a theory about bad guys that holds up for most villains of history and fiction - with at least one major exception.

Tig Notaro Screams Bloody Murder


Comedian Tig Notaro is credited with performing the stand-out stand-up show in recent memory, LIVE, which is now being released in a special edition with proceeds benefiting cancer charities. Here, she tells us a story about what might seem like a less-dramatic medical operation - having her wisdom teeth removed - which lead her to some pretty unwise behavior.

Why Big Star Were Not Big Stars

Chattering Class

Filmmaker Drew DeNicola's new documentary, "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me," examines the story of the celebrated cult band he calls "the ultimate beautiful losers." He schools Brendan about Big Star's rise, fall, and eventual place in the American pop cannon.

Herb Alpert Blows Through Etiquette Questions


Herb Alpert has sold over 72 million records around the world (most famously with his band, the Tijuana Brass) since starting his career in 1957, picking up fourteen Platinum certifications, fifteen Golds, eight Grammy awards, and the National Medal of the Arts along the way. At 78 years old, he is still playing to massive crowds, often along with his wife Lani Hall Alpert, and the pair can be seen this month at The Hollywood Bowl. As a music legend who has met everyone from Frank Sinatra to President Obama to a whole lot of bullfighters, we thought Mr. Alpert might have some insight into your etiquette questions. His answers might get a little moist.

What Are the 'Fresh Wars'? (And Who's Winning?)

Main Course

Younger consumers are demanding fast food chains offer new, healthier choices. For a big company like McDonalds that means taking a risk on over six million pounds of cucumbers and a bunch of weird Austrian tubes.

Deafheaven Pairs Black Metal with Dinner


For their new EP "Sunbather", Deafheaven picked up Pitchfork webzine's coveted "Best New Music" title and an 8.9 rating. The San Francisco-based band's second outing sends screaming Scandinavian-influenced metal crashing headlong into dreamy UK-style shoegaze rock, then drizzles the wreckage with California melody. Their dinner party playlist suggestions are equally unpredictable.

Playlist: Episode 209


A chronological list of all the tunes in this week's show.