Episode 329: Alicia Vikander, Randall Munroe, EL VY

Swedish actress Alicia Vikander poses for photographers on the red carpet as she arrives for the Premiere of "Testament of Youth" in central London on January 5, 2015. (Photo Credit: ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images)

Alicia Vikander, star of “The Danish Girl,” on why she hates Pictionary… “xkcd” cartoonist Randall Munroe helps us keep it simple… Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf of the band El Vy quarrel over Cat Stevens… Emily Post’s great-grandchildren on whether it’s OK to bring a half-empty bottle of wine to a party (or is it half-full?)… Actor Josh Thomas of the Australian comedy “Please Like Me” on taking his mom to the top of the world… Plus a Hanukkah menu from LA’s Redbird restaurant, the history of the world’s first computer programmer, a binary-coded cocktail, and more!

EL VY - 'In Tents'


Matt Berninger, from indie band The National, gives us an intense icebreaker before joining fellow EL VY bandmate Brent Knopf for some quarreling and playlist building.

Control Cars With the Power of Your Mind

Small Talk

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair's Hollywood columnist, critic and host of the new "Little Gold Men" podcast, explains how scientists in China have developed a car that can be controlled by your brain waves. The future is now.

All About Ada Lovelace: The Enchantress of Numbers

A History Lesson With Booze ®

Learn how the daughter of poet Lord Byron became a groundbreaking mathematician… and changed computers forever. Then celebrate her with a tangy twist on a Tom Collins.

Pop Duo EL VY Swap Songs, Insults


Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf are the duo behind the band EL VY. You may know Matt from the hugely popular indie band The National, and Brent from the Portland band Menomena. They bring you down to earth with their party playlist for a night of playful banter.

Alicia Vikander's Carefully-Drawn Performance, in 'The Danish Girl'

Guest of Honor

Alicia Vikander was just nominated for two Golden Globe awards. One for playing a cyborg in the sci-fi thriller "Ex Machina," and the second for a film that opens nationwide this week: "The Danish Girl." She explains what she learned about the transgender community from working on the film and reveals why she won't play Pictionary with you anytime soon.

Josh Thomas Takes His Mum to the Top of the World


Australian Josh Thomas created, wrote and stars in the comedy series "Please Like Me." In it, he tackles coming-out and coming-of-age. The season three finale airs Friday, December 11, 10 p.m. He recalls his mother's unfortunate night of swilling Prosecco and sightseeing.

Randall Munroe Makes the Complicated Stuff Simple for Us (and You)

Chattering Class

Randall Munroe is a cartoonist with a degree in physics. Years ago, while working as a roboticist for NASA, he started the webcomic "xkcd." The drawings are simple, mostly stick figures, but the concepts are big, as he takes on technology, computer science, and math. His latest book is called "Things Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words." He examines how we use language to describe complex ideas with Brendan and explains the thousand-word challenge behind the book.

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. Courtesy of The Emily Post Institute.

The Posts Give Us Personal Space


Each week you send in your questions about how to behave and here to answer them this week are our resident etiquette celebrities, Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning, the great-great-grandkids of Emily Post. The two etiquette mavens tackle tricky listener questions about post-meal messes, fancy wine faux pas, and how to handle conversations with conspiracy-loving co-workers.

Redbird Delivers a Hanukkah Menu With Modern Twist

Main Course

Typical Hanukkah fare features foods cooked in oil. Mainly to symbolize the miracle by which a night's worth of lamp oil lasted eight nights... but also because fried food is delicious. So Rico headed over to Redbird -- one of the top restaurants in L.A. -- to sample sophisticated takes on latkes and sufganiyot (a.k.a donuts).

Paul Burch - 'Meridian'

One For The Road

Paul Burch is a piano playing Nashvillian who loves honky tonk. His latest project is "Meridian Rising," and it's a musical autobiography of the father of country music Jimmie Rodgers. Here's a track called, "Meridian."