Episode 305: Blondie, Oscar the Grouch, Thomas Vinterberg

Chris Stein and Deborah Harry attend the Harpers Bazaar Women of the Year awards at Claridge's Hotel on November 4, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

This week: The band Blondie talks mod style and hoarding habits… Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg ponders the vicissitudes of fate – and then yodels… Oscar the Grouch deigns to give us etiquette advice (DON’T thank him for it)… Comedian Maz Jobrani gets his dream gig, with a nightmarish caveat… We digest some Knish Knowledge… British band Public Service Broadcasting deejays the loneliest dinner party in the world … Plus: canes with eyes, riots over Shakespeare, and Muppet humor.

Oscar the Grouch - 'Ground Beef'


The grumpy "Sesame Street" Muppet cooks up a joke for his own amusement (not yours). He returns later in the show for our etiquette segment.

A Biometric Breakthrough for the Blind

Small Talk

Anna Sale, host and managing editor of WNYC's Death, Sex & Money, tells us about improvements to canes for the visually impaired; a special model can now can identify faces, and transmit that information to the user.

The 'Macbeth' Rivalry That Inspired a Riot

A History Lesson With Booze ®

Around this week back in 1849, New Yorkers rioted... over Shakespearean acting. Seriously. Learn about the ruckus, then smash down a custom, era-appropriate cocktail.

Public Service Broadcasting's Party(ish) Playlist


J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth are pseudonyms of the duo behind the instrumental band Public Service Broadcasting. The two are known for pairing dance music with archival sound clips. Their latest album, "The Race for Space," was, not surprisingly, inspired by the space race. The London-based band kick off their playlist with two party-inappropriate tracks, and then close it out with some fine jams.

Debbie Harry and Chris Stein Look Back at Blondie's Beginnings

Guest of Honor

Blondie's Debbie Harry and Chris Stein chat with Rico about cultivating their mod image, wrestling with band names... and just plain wrestling. A new exhibit of Stein's photos of the band is now on display in L.A.

Photo: Ben Bernous

Maz Jobrani Remembers When His Dream Gig Nearly Went Awry


Comedian Maz Jobrani takes us back to the time when he landed a dream gig, with a nightmarish asterisk. The story comes from his new book "I'm Not a Terrorist, but I've Played one on TV."

We Kibitz About Knish

Main Course

Brendan joins Jewish soul food expert Laura Silver, to soak in some knish knowledge and test the limits of pun humor.

Oscar the Grouch's Advice? Let Your Inner Grouch Run Free


Legendary Muppeteer Carroll Spinney -- the man behind Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird -- gets the spotlight in a new documentary (out now). He brings Oscar along with him to the studio, and the Grouch shares some VERY reluctant etiquette tips. (DON'T thank him for them, mind you.)

Thomas Vinterberg Explores A Feminine Perspective, Life After Dogme 95

Chattering Class

Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg started a filmmaking movement with Dogme 95, recently earned an Oscar nomination for the chilling drama "The Hunt," and now turns to a Thomas Hardy adaptation in "Far From the Madding Crowd." He reflects on the vicissitudes of fate and the emergence of feminism... and then shows off a hidden talent.

Tal National - 'Claire'

One For The Road

We close the show with "Claire," a guitar-loaded gem from Niger-based band Tal National. Check out a video of their live performance of "Zoy Zoy" at Ace Hotel.