381: Thomas Middleditch, Justin Simien, Cold War Kids

Photo Credit: Koury Angelo

“Silicon Valley” star Thomas Middleditch gets silly and waxes poetic on his days as a Dungeons & Dragons wizard… “Dear White People” creator Justin Simien tells us how to deal with a Northerner who says y’all… Two-fifths of Cold War Kids mix a sentimental playlist… and author Elena Passarello introduces us to Mozart’s favorite pet. Plus, Thomas Jefferson saves the Library of Congress, a forgotten pioneer of American cuisine, and “coffin liquor.”

Justin Simien - 'Pumpkin Measurements'


Justin Simien - the filmmaker behind the smash Sundance hit "Dear White People" (in theaters this week) - riffs on pumpkin proportions.

How Thomas Jefferson Saved and Changed the Library of Congress

A History Lesson With Booze ®

This week back in 1800, the U.S. government's oldest cultural institution was founded. Find out how the founding father influenced the library’s scope, then toast with a cocktail celebrating the institution's current top librarian.

Cold War Kids Get Sentimental With Their Party Playlist


Nathan Willett and Matt Maust are two-fifths of indie rock band Cold War Kids. The band just released their sixth record. It's called, "L.A. Divine." Listen as Nathan and Matt pick songs by Fiona Apple, The Walkmen, and more to pull at your heartstrings as they look back at their missed encounter with a rock superstar.

Thomas Middleditch Shows Off His Nerd Range

Guest of Honor

Improviser, actor, and all-around funny fellow Thomas Middleditch earned an Emmy nomination for playing Richard Hendricks, the hero of the HBO comedy series "Silicon Valley." The show launches its fourth season on April 23. Listen as actor chats with Rico about the commercialization of nerd culture, the startup investment tips he's picked up from working on the tech comedy series, and more.

The Legacy of Jeremiah Tower: The Best Chef You've Never Heard Of

Main Course

In the past decade or so chefs have become celebrities. So, it's kind of remarkable that pioneering chef Jeremiah Tower isn't better known. However, a new documentary from filmmaker Lydia Tenaglia sets out to change that with "The Last Magnificent." It profiles Tower's role in changing what and how Americans eat and why his personal flaws might've contributed to his obscurity.

Filmmaker Justin Simien Schools Us on Sloppy Slang, Dorm Room Rules


The Sundance-winning writer/director of the funny and provocative new film "Dear White People" -- about race relations at a private university -- tells us about uniting his many disparate personalities... then offers our listeners etiquette advice, y'all.

When Mozart Met His Teeny Tiny Feathered Match


In each chapter of her book "Animals Strike Curious Poses," Elena Passarello tells a different true story about an animal that made its mark on history. In the audio above, she reads from a chapter called "Vogel Staar" co-starring a young Mozart... and a musically inclined starling.