Mark Adams is a critically acclaimed writer and an editor at National Geographic Adventure. Despite his outdoor magazine credentials, he considered himself an armchair adventurer before he embarked on a journey for his latest book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu was an old and dependable topic for National Geographic, but Adams was determined to dig a little deeper when revisiting the subject. A hundred years ago, the lecturer turned explorer Hiram Bingham III brought the ruins of Machu Picchu to the attention of the outside world but raised a host of questions about his methods and intentions for doing so. Adams decided to take on some of those questions by retracing Bingham’s expedition, taking his tender-footed self into the wild with an Australian guide and a handful of coca leaves. Adams talks to us about his transformation — from a man who had never slept in a tent as an adult, to a full-fledged adventurer.
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Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he’s dabbled in a lot of things. He’s interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, been a semi-successful rock musician (they’re big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.
One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he’s asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his new book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: …and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.
He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons.
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This week’s pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, but this week he’s all about documentaries. First up, it’s a pair of short documentaries about Allan Benton and his ham. Allan is the owner of Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, and we travel inside both his office and curing house in the films.
Next, it’s the feature-length documentary Senna, profiling the thrilling and ultimately tragic tale of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. Senna is not just for Formula One fans — it’s a gripping profile, and the racing footage is thrilling no matter who you are. It’s currently available on Netflix Instant.
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Benedict Cumberbatch is a British actor currently bringing Sherlock Holmes to life in PBS’s Masterpiece series Sherlock, alongside Martin Freeman of The Office as John Watson. While Cumberbatch and Freeman are the latest in a long line of actors to play these characters, there is something fresh about their adaptation: Sherlock takes place in the present day, updating the classic detective to our modern era. In the past year, Cumberbatch has memorably stolen scenes in period dramas like War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Benedict tells us about bringing a new take to an iconic character, and what keeps Holmes relevant to both writers and audiences all these years later. He also opens up about how a life-threatening altercation while filming in South Africa in 2004 left him changed as a person. The Series Two finale of Sherlock airs this Sunday, May 20th, on PBS’s Masterpiece. Series Two will be available on DVD just two days later, on Tuesday the 22nd.
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Morgan Webb is a video game journalist and the co-host of X-Play on the G4 TV network. Webb fell into work in front of the camera entirely by accident via a research position on Tech TV’s The Screen Savers, and it wasn’t long before she wound up in front of the camera. Tech TV would eventually merge with G4, and X-Play is now the longest-running program on the network.
Morgan talks about what it means to be a gamer, what she loves about the gaming experience, and her struggle for journalistic legitimacy.
Thanks to Dave Ciaccio for editing this segment.
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Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner are the creative team behind [adult swim]’s hilariously funny and blood-soaked action-comedy Eagleheart, starring Chris Elliott. Koman and Weinberg had worked together as writers on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, where they were responsible for culling the clips played whenever Conan pulled the Walker Texas Ranger Lever. It was a job that required them to wade through hundreds of hours of Walker, Texas Ranger, and the inspiration for Eagleheart was born out of a desire to parody the show. But to call Eagleheart a parody of WTR sells it way short, as the show is much crazier and more comically-inspired than that.
Koman, Weinberg and Woliner join us to discuss the show’s ability to cram an absurd amount of story into an eleven-minute run-time, making magic happen fast on Eagleheart’s wild production schedule, and what inspires them about the show’s star, Chris Elliott. Eagleheart has just begun its second season on Cartoon Network’s [adult swim], airing Thursdays at midnight.
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It’s an upside-down world out there, and some days you just don’t know what to make of it. Luckily for us, there’s one man who can keep this country in order! Comedian Jordan Morris puts America in its place for the month of April 2012. You can find Jordan on Twitter @Jordan_Morris.
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Rachel Dratch is a comic actress best known to audiences as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006, and from recurring roles on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Her new book is the very funny memoir Girl Walks Into A Bar…: Comedies Calamities, Dating Disasters & A Midlife Miracle. While there are a number of behind-the-scenes stories from her days at SNL in the book, it’s mainly the story of life after the show, as Dratch dove head-first into the dating pool after years of using being busy with SNL as an excuse not to date. The titular miracle was an unexpected pregnancy at age 44, having been in a long distance relationship with the father for just six months prior.
Dratch joins Jesse to discuss her comedy background in Chicago, the development process of getting some of her most famous SNL characters to air, and the inherent humor of balancing midlife motherhood with a romance still in its infant stages. Girl Walks Into A Bar… is available now in bookstores everywhere.
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