Episode 232: Jeremy Renner, Nancy Sinatra, and Billy Collins

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This Week: Jeremy Renner does the American Hustle… Nancy Sinatra on headphones and hair-poufs … Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins asks you to clean your room …Nick Lowe’s Eccentric Xmas Soundtrack … An inimitable, unpronounceable writer you’ve got to read… Italian food that might remind you of sushi … The precise moment when cringes become cackles … Television that really is bad for you … And hugs and kisses from Queen Bey.

“Archery” – Austin Brown


Parquet Courts' singer and guitar player Austin Brown aims for laughs with a one-liner.

Humor in the Details - of Timing

Small Talk

Richard Lawson, now a columnist for Vanity Fair, tells us how to tell how soon is too soon, thanks to a recent Twitter-based study.

Pokémon Shockwave

A History Lesson With Booze ®

So many Japanese children were glued to Pokémon when a new episode was broadcast this week in 1997 that an oddity in the animation simultaneously made viewers across the country ill. Learn about this airwave error and then turn the TV off to enjoy a custom cocktail.

Nick Lowe Unwraps Cool Yule Tunes

Guest List

Nick Lowe's newest album is "Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family." It is a Christmas album designed to avoid the hokey, Perry Como style of seasonal music. We asked him to give us a holiday party soundtrack of other Christmas songs you're probably not sick of yet.

Jeremy Renner on 360° Filmmaking and Unbearable Bowling

Guest of Honor

Actor Jeremy Renner stars in "American Hustle" as a New Jersey politician who walks the line of clean and corrupt, and does so in wide-tie, puffy-hair, 1970s style.

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's Runaway Fingers


Book critic Liesl Schillinger reads a darkly comic excerpt from a newly-published short story collection by early-20th century Russian author Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky.

Celebrating a Feast of the Seven More Sustainable Fishes

Main Course

On Christmas Eve, Chef Michael Cimarusti channels memories of his Italian grandmother through the kitchen of his fine-dining restaurant Providence to create his take on the feast of seven fishes. He keeps tradition, but modernizes some dishes, with an eye to sustainable practices.

Keeping Cool, Calm, and Coiffed with Nancy Sinatra


Sixties pop icon Nancy Sinatra advises on flattering make-overs, flattering musicians' egos, and the "Frank Story" she doesn't really want to hear.

Invented Words and Moments Observed with Poet Billy Collins

Chattering Class

Billy Collins is a former two-term Poet Laureate of the United States and about as acclaimed as a contemporary poet can be. He reads from his new book and reminds us of the importance of taking a walk in the park.

Love You, Beyoncé, "XO"

One For The Road

Beyoncé's new album, released by surprise last week, is experimental, boundary-nudging pop distinguished by her most mature songwriting to date - candidly personal yet politically charged. In a year rich in statement-making releases, the record immediately inserted itself on many critics' best-of lists and has become an essential pop culture touchstone.