David Byrne's self-titled album is a personal moment in his creative history, but do his lyrics have meaning? Or do they simply dredge up emotions for the listener? Also, how does an album that's this diverse have such a white, middle class identity associated with it?
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Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's novel about the comedy of Armageddon seems to be the very definition of "twee." We try to unpack what that concept means and how it contributes to the authors' humanist message.
Grant Morrison says this 2002 comic book with Christ Weston, Gary Erskine and Matt Hollingsworth is an inoculation against the nasty horror of the world through depravity, pornography and depression. We interrogate whether that theme works in the end product and if the sexual violence within is problematic.
David Simon and Ed Burns produced what is heralded as one of the most authentic depictions of the Iraq War, based on Evan Wright's embedded reporting. We look at how it navigates between journalism and drama to keep us from forgetting the story of soldiers on the ground.
Writer/director Robin Hardy describes The Wicker Tree as a companion piece to 1973's The Wicker Man. We dig into just how this film got made. Was it a spiteful response to the American remake? Or a continuation for a deeper purpose?
Killer Mike and El-P call their latest record the album of their careers. How does it straddle crass humor, transgression and political activism? And if you are "the jewel," how does their music fit into your community?
We turn to David Harper (Off Panel, SKTCHD) and Augie De Blieck, Jr. (Pipeline Comics) for expertise on what's going on in comics news. Are the struggles of this niche industry indicative of something broader going on in our media? Is news a trustworthy advocate that can help us make informed decisions?
This comic book from two of Europe's most legendary creators both presents and parodies white male themes in the 20th century. So what makes it compelling today? Should we embrace or reject its existentialism?
With a provocative book title, Laura Jane Grace is reclaiming a slur and repurposing it for her story of struggling with gender dysphoria and self-destructive behavior. Guest Alyson McManus helps us unpack this experience into something universal, with which we can all identify.
Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar has developed a warm, well thought out approach to family cartoons. We look at her goals, Cartoon Network's business plans and the fight in fandom over how this show represents diverse identities.
Past guest Swain Hunt (Sidebar, The Metronome) returns to discuss what makes movies hold up? We each tackle a film from the last 30 years of cinema and try to understand why they hold up for us: Bull Durham, Contact and V For Vendetta.
It's easy to connect with the symbol that is "Johnny Cash," whether you're a rebel, a wanderer, or even a Christian. But how do these contradictions come together as some kind of American identity? And how do these final recordings of a humble storyteller speak to our need for the man to come around?
After viewing the blockbuster Disney princess film Frozen with actual little kids, we look at all the cooks in this corporate cartoon kitchen. With this many people involved, how did they pull it off? And is this cartoon whitewashed? Too feminist? Not feminist enough? How is this fairy tale defining gender and ethnicity for an entire generation?
In the second part of our series on Dischord Records, we look at the politics of Washington D.C.'s music scene going into the 1990s... when art met commerce.
In the first of our two episodes on Dischord Records we look at the punk community of Washington D.C. in the 1980s and its conflicting ethics of politics, violence and drug abuse. Follow along with the story of Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson's label until its redefining summer of 1985.
Hellboy's a charming, working class hero, despite being a demon's spawn. We look at how creator Mike Mignola taps into the mythic simplicity of folk tales and how Hellboy itself has become a commodified franchise.
For our first coverage of a reality television show we go from beauty to camp, to joy and grief. This show simultaneously sells branded content that somehow doesn't feel sleazy, while also providing an extraordinary platform for LGBTQ culture.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: To come.
A novel that took Stephen King 12.5 years to write is now a major franchise. But what was it like when fans (and retailers) were rabid for more? Did King have a "responsibility" to them? And why didn't he plot his fantasy world... instead of writing it by the seat of his pants?
All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is a film (and record) by Tim Rutili of the band Califone. We interview Tim about his experience creating a project like this in multiple media and how that changed his process going forward.
By becoming a more vulnerable frontman, Nick Cave has transformed after a major tragedy. To understand this better, we cover his latest album Skeleton Tree, the companion film One More Time With Feeling and the Bad Seeds' latest North American tour.
As part of the big four bands breaking out of the Seattle "grunge" scene in the early 1990s, Soundgarden was a combination that was not quite metal or punk. We look at why their record Badmotorfinger acts like such a strong signifier of meaning in the wake of Chris Cornell's death.
With a comparison of their staff rosters, we try imagining a television show that idolizes the White House today, the way The West Wing did in 1999. Believe it or not, Aaron Sorkin's fantasy of public service let some people admire civics again.
Donald Glover once described his FX sitcom Atlanta as "Twin Peaks for rappers." As residents of the eponymous city, we were doubtful. But this show came through with a weird, wondrous take on our local African-American culture. Special guest Swain Hunt (Sidebar, The Metronome) joins us to discuss.
China Miéville's novel Kraken is a meandering fantasy comedy full of political themes and a love for weird monsters. How does this author manage to weave together so many themes and genres into one book? And why does he think J.R.R. Tolkien is a "wen on the arse of fantasy"?