1. The Superb Owl of Shows

    January 30, 2015 by MelStar1

    50 years ago today, Sir Winston Churchill was laid to rest in Great Britain amid great ceremony. Churchill’s body was displayed in Westminster Hall for three days before it made a final journey up the Thames in the Havengore, a boat typically used for hydrographic survey (a.k.a mapping the ocean). 350 million people tuned in to a live broadcast, and thousands upon thousands came out in person to pay final respects to the man who, as Prime Minister, saw that England survived the Blitz and would exit World War II a victor.



    Today on StandUP!


    It was a packed show and it kicked off with Kevin Costner. Promoting his new film examining race and family, Kevin and Pete talked about the process of making “Black or White” in a changing Hollywood system and their own experiences with family. Then, Pete told Kevin Costner the story about that time Kevin Costner texted Pete, completing the circle of life. “Black or White” opens this weekend.

    Comedian and Actor Eric Andre joined us in-studio to promote his new series “Man Seeking Woman” on FXX. Pete and Eric go way back in the New York comedy scene and it was a fun conversation about culture, race, Florida, fame, dickpics and drugs.

    Then we were joined by CNN Politics Executive Editor, Mark Preston to discuss music, comedy and Presidential hopefuls & also-rans.

    Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief John Avlon and National Review’s Will Cain joined us for their regular round of political discussion and disagreement. They talked about Mitt Romney’s decision to NOT run for President and the political oddsmakers who make a living off such speculation.

    Closing out the week, we checked in with the hosts of two weekend shows on SiriusXM Insight 121. The Center for American Progress’ Rebecca Vallas is the host of Talk Poverty Radio, Saturdays at noon EST, and this weekend she’ll be covering the various ways people are seemingly punished simply for being poor. Dean Obeidallah is the host of the 10am EST show that bears his name. Tomorrow, he welcomes Congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison.


    What are you guys doing this weekend? If you aren’t busy Sunday night, I was thinking of having a painting party and maybe de-pilling some sweaters if you want to come over.





    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  2. Black or White and Read All Over

    January 29, 2015 by MelStar1

    How do you sleep at night? No, not how CAN you sleep at night, but how DO you? Pajamas? Nude? Eight blankets? Just a sheet? white noise machine? Utter darkness? That’s what we were obsessed with…


    Today on StandUP!


    Our first guest of the show was the current VP for New Initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former adviser on the Middle East to several Secretaries of State, Aaron David Miller. Pete asked Aaron to give us an update on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and discuss the currently tenuous relationship Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has with the West.

    Next, we welcomed comic, writer and director Mike Binder to discuss his new film dealing with race relations and families, “Black or White.” Mike and Pete also discussed the process of making the film and the reaction from audiences and critics. “Black or White” stars Kevin Costner, who also produced the film and will be on StandUP! in the first hour tomorrow.

    Then, we spoke with freelance journalist and author of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Bullets: An Accidental War Correspondent in Yemen,” Laura Kasinof. Laura gave us, in the words of one caller, an “intel report” on daily life and politics in Yemen. It really helped paint a more complete picture of a nation that has been at the forefront of the war on terror for the last decade, while remaining out of the headlines.

    Our final guest of the day is the owner of the domain Ritholtz.com as well as author of that site’s “Big Picture Blog,” author of “Bailout Nation,” and contributor at Bloomberg View, Barry Ritholtz. Pete asked Barry to swing on by and explain why, and even if, quarterly earnings reports matter to folks like you and I, and also what it means every time the Federal Reserve has something to say.


    I haven’t finalized my Super Bowl plans yet, but I know that, whatever I do, it will involve hot sauce and butter.




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  3. Challengers and Kings

    January 28, 2015 by MelStar1

    NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded after launch on this day in 1986. One of the crew was Concord, New Hampshire schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, part of the Teacher In Space project, beating more than 11,000 applicants to be the first civilian in space.


    Today on StandUP!


    Our first guest is the Thomas and Mabel Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, Samuel R. Gross. Samuel is also the editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, and he joined us today to talk about the record number of exonerated prisoners in the United States last year.

    Next, we caught up with British historian and author of “Gulf Charities and Islamic Philanthropy in the Age of Terror and Beyond,” Robert Lacey. Robert last joined us for our theme week on the Middle East, and we asked him back today to discuss the Saudi Royal Family, it’s history and lines of succession.

    Our final guest of the day was Ritu Sharma, principal at Sharma Solutions and former president and founder of Women Thrive. Ritu joined us to talk about her ongoing work for the rights of women and children worldwide, as well as to bring us up to speed on various women’s issues.

    I can’t believe January is almost over. I can’t believe the Super Bowl is this weekend. I can’t believe I’m 36 years old, unmarried with no children and no…wait, on second thought, I can absoultely believe that.





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  4. The Day After Yesterday

    January 27, 2015 by MelStar1

    Wow! What  a storm! Now, grab a broom and help clear off Pete’s solar panels…


    Today on StandUP!


    It must be really difficult for anyone in any other part of the country to care about the snowstorm that just hit the Northeast, so let’s not dawdle and get right to our first guest, Constitutional Law Professor at Georgia State University, Eric Segall. The US is one of but a few Western/developed nations that still allows a death penalty for crime and today Eric highlighted the difficult and tricky issues that come along with that, from executing the mentally challenged to the secretive chemical ingredients that create a lethal injection.

    Next, Lawrence Lessig joined Pete to discuss the seedy underbelly of campaign finance and explain why it’s important to change the way things are done. All this is especially timely in light of the news that the Koch brothers, Charles and David, plan to spend roughly 889 MILLION DOLLARS on the 2016 campaign season.

    Our final guest of the day was former Army Colonel and professor emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University, Andrew Bacevich. Pete and Col. Bacevich talked military re-deployment and it led into a great, great discussion with you about the nature of Freedom and whether it is a good thing to honor our soldiers as heroes, even in a conflict we find to be unjust.


    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go home and finish writing an angry letter to Mother Nature for not destroying the infrastucture of America’s largest city with several feet of heavy, frozen water.





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  5. A Blizzard…of KNOWLEDGE!

    January 26, 2015 by MelStar1

    What would you call a massive blizzard affecting the eastern third of your nation? In the digital age, “Snowpacalypse” and “Snowmageddon” have been popular go-tos, and the Weather Channel has taken to naming them (this one is called Juno). Maybe I’m nostalgic for the olden days, because I like the simple, straightforward “Blizzard of 2015.”


    Today on StandUP!


    We kicked off the week with some talk of the frozen doom awaiting the liberal media elite huddled in America’s Northeast, then we talked DeflateGate and SNL before segueing to our first guest, former speechwriter for George W. Bush and senior writer at The Atlantic, David Frum. Pete and David talked Sarah Palin, medical marijuana and general GOP-related things.

    Next, Christine Romans from CNN’s Early Start joined us to talk about the massive snowstorm crippling the Northeast and what storms like this can do to local and national economies, from temporary food shortages to instances of profiteering.

    Indiana University professor, health policy wonk and host of YouTube’s Healthcare Triage, Dr. Aaron Carroll jumped on the line to talk with Pete about the measles outbreak at Disneyland in California. How, in the modern age, could a formerly squashed disease like measles make a roaring comeback? Not surprisingly, the phrase “anti-vaxxer” is part of the answer.

    Our last guest of the day was Bruce Bartlett. He’s a former advisor to Ronald Reagan, treasury official under the George H. W. Bush administration, as well as author of “The Benefit and the Burden.” Bruce joined to talk climate change, tax policy, wages and mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.


    That’s it for today. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the stables, grooming my tauntaun.





    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  6. Letting The Air Out of the Discussion

    January 23, 2015 by MelStar1

    Depression rates take a rise in most Nordic countries come Winter, the so-called “Winter Blues,” with the exception of one: Iceland. In study after study, the Icelandic people have shown no significant rise in cases of depression once Winter sets in. Scientists theorize it may be connected to an extremely fish-heavy diet…ANYWAY…

    Today on StandUP!


    There’s a lot of hard news out there in the world, and perhaps that’s why we started the show with some light discussion of the DeflateGate currently captivating the sports world. Don’t worry, because we soon moved on to our first guest, Executive Editor, CNN Politics, Mark Preston. Pete got the lowdown on the Mitt Romney-Jeb Bush meetup and talked to Mark about his piece on “opposition research.” Check it out!

    Our next guest was John Campbell, author of “Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink,” senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and  ambassador to Nigeria from 2004-2007. Ambassador Campbell shared his knowledge and expertise on Boko Haram’s actions and motivations in Nigeria and why Americans should be concerned.

    Then, we checked in with Rebecca Vallas and Dean Obeidallah for a sneak peek at their respective shows this weekend on Insight 121. On “Talk Poverty Radio,” Rebecca will be tackling the issue of inequality, while Dean will be speaking with Rabia Chaudry, who first brought the case of Adnan Sayed to light, leading to the popular Serial podcast series.

    Finally, actor Peter Coyote joined us once again for an hour of enlightened discussion on race, “activism” as a term used by propagandists, and the merits of feeling and experience in artistic creativity. I loved every second of it.


    Here’s a picture of me, my Pound Puppy and my grandfather from when I was about 8. We called him “Pop” and I’m not sure I ever saw him NOT in a recliner. We talked about this picture a few times on the show today, so study it hard.


    Absorb every aspect of America in 1986 through this photograph.




    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  7. Heroes and Legends//Anti-heroes and Tall Tales

    January 22, 2015 by MelStar1

    It was this very week in 1965 that the Frisbee was first introduced by the Wham-O toy company. Before then, folks were just whipping pie tins around all willy-nilly.


    Today on StandUP!


    We took at lot of calls today and had a great and lengthy discussion on the novel and film American Sniper, its subject Chris Kyle, the war that serves as its setting, and the men and women who served in that war. Based on your reaction, the nation is still torn on the nature of war and conflict, and if movies like American Sniper can tell a story about the era without being seen as propaganda. Oh, and we found out that Pete is a real “hippy-dippy son of a bitch,” which is nice to know…

    Our first guest of the day was GQ magazine contributor and author of the books, “The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL,” Michael J. Mooney. Michael knew Chris Kyle and interviewed him extensively over the years before his death, and today he helped us explore Chris’ life and some of the more mythic stories that surround the man.

    Our second guest was climate scientist and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, Michael Mann. Pete and Dr. Mann talked about yesterday’s Congressional vote acknowledging the legitimacy of climate change and his most recent book, “The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.

    Our third and final guest was former Marine and State Dept. official who resigned his post in Afghanistan over US policy in the region, Matthew Hoh. Matthew has joined Pete many times in the past as senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, and today Pete asked him for his unique take on our Chris Kyle/American Sniper discussion, PTSD and US foreign policy in the region in which he served.


    I was never that great with a frisbee. I didn’t stink, but I definitely was never one of those people doing a between-the-legs trick toss. In my mind, a person who is REALLY great at throwing a frisbee wears short corduroy shorts, no shirt (it’s tucked into their waistband like a butt-cape) and has a thick, full head of hair. Matthew McConaughey, basically.





    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  8. State of the Gravy

    January 21, 2015 by MelStar1

    Last night was the State of the Union. It was on every channel. My “official response” video got approximately zero thousand views on YouTube…


    Today on StandUP!


    The job of recapping and dissecting the State of the Union fell upon our first guest, award winning journalist and author of “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies,” Jonathan Alter. The President talked a big talk last night but Jonathan doesn’t expect Congress to play ball, unless it’s hardball.

    We had a packed second hour, and we started it with a visit from documentarian and the host of “Inside Man” 0n CNN, Morgan Spurlock. Morgan gave Pete a peek into the new season of his show, from robots that want to sex you to vacations planned around medical procedures.

    Next, Pete spent a few minutes with the former Governor of Arkansas, former Fox News host and potential GOP candidate for President of the United States, Mike Huckabee. Pete and Mr. Huckabee went back and forth and the issues at the heart of his latest book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.”

    Our final guest of hour two was actor and comedian Nick Kroll, who was here promoting the third and final season of his eponymous Comedy Central show. Pete and Nick talked about the nature of fame and the good/bad people you meet on your way up from the bottom of the comedy world.

    Our final guest of the day, before we finished with your calls and reactions to the State of the Union and our guests, was SiriusXM Insight host Margaret Hoover. Margaret jumped into Studio 21 before the noon broadcast of her own show, “Get It Right,” to give Pete a Republican take on the bulk of issues brought up in last night’s State of the Union.


    Huckabee’s book title reminds me of a time I went with a friend to his grandmother’s house in Senath, Missouri to pick up a futon (college…yeesh) and we woke up early and hit one of those small mom and pop breakfast joints that are too small to even call a diner. More like a breakfast house, the kind of place that’s closed by 2pm. I had never had biscuits and gravy before, so I ordered that. But I also wanted pancakes so I ordered those, too. Here’s a tip: get one or the other, never both, and never when you are with the “finish what you ordered” kind of folks. I was leaden all the way back to Kentucky. Damn great gravy, though…




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  9. The History Isn’t History, The History is the Present.

    January 20, 2015 by MelStar1

    American Sniper made, and this is an exact figure, TWENTY GAZILLION DOLLARS at the box office last weekend. And you thought American’s were “war weary”…


    Today on StandUP!


    Our first guest back from the loooong weekend was David Cay Johnston. The Pulitzer Prize and George Polk Award winning journalist and bestselling author joined us to talk about, among myriad other things, a new study from OxFam revealing that, in two short years, more than half of the world’s wealth will be amassed by just one percent of the world’s population.

    Next, we were joined by Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University, Julian E. Zelizer. His new book on President Lyndon Johnson, “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” set the stage for a great and timely discussion on the once-maligned President, including his role in the events depicted in the Academy Award nominated film, Selma.

    With the State of the Union address looming this evening, we thought it wise to check in with Pete’s favorite historian and friend of the show, Kenneth C. Davis. Ken’s “Don’t Know Much About…” series fills in the gaps of historical knowledge with gooey gobs of informational spackle. Much of how we view the State of the Union, the pomp, circumstance and rebuttals, are only products of the TV Age, so we left it up to Ken to get us up to speed and ready for President Obamas words before Congress.

    Closing out today’s show was SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile, whose tireless work both in the field of gay rights and the world of politics-at-large make him a more than suitable guest to cover the Supreme Court’s recent decision to take on the idea of marriage equality from a nationwide perspective.


    Let’s meet back here tomorrow and talk about who wore it best on the State of the Union red carpet!





    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  10. One Week.

    January 16, 2015 by MelStar1

    Two movies are out this weekend, Selma and American Sniper, that have each generated their fair share of public debate from both the Liberal and Conservative worlds. If you go out to see them, let us know your thoughts on Tuesday’s show. Meanwhile…


    Today on StandUP!


    We finished out the first week of the new channel, SiriusXM Insight, with some discussion at the top of the show of the controversy surround the Academy Awards nominations (or lack thereof) for the film Selma. Then, we kept our usual Friday appointment with Executive Editor, CNN Politics, Mark Preston. Mark called us from San Diego, California, where the RNC is holed up for its winter meeting. To hear Mark tell it, this conclave has become a de facto starting point for the 2016 Presidential campaign over the last few days.

    Our next guest is an MIT Professor of Linguistics and author of the books “Manufacturing Consent” and the recent “Masters of Mankind: Essays and Lectures, 1969-2013,” Noam Chomsky. Pete and Mr. Chomsky talked about the Charlie Hebdo shootings, freedom of the press and the history of free speech in America and abroad.

    In the third hour, Pete welcomed Univ. of Michigan Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, historian and author, Juan Cole. His latest book, “The New Arabs: How the Millenial Generation is Changing the Middle East,” provided a perfect jumping point for Pete to engage Mr. Cole on the tenuous atmosphere in Europe with regards to Islam and Muslim immigrants.

    Our last guest of the day, and the week(!),was Rebecca Vallas, who came to us from the Center for American Progress, where she is the Assoc. Director of the Poverty to Prosperity program. Rebecca is ALSO the host of the new SiriusXM Insight show “Talk Poverty Radio,” and she discussed the goals and guests of the show with Pete.


    Instead of being live Monday, Alfred has prepared a best-of on the topic of the fight for civil rights. From a look back on Freedom Summer, to the modern fight for marriage equality, to our interview with Congressman and civil rights pioneer, Rep. John Lewis, it will hopefully be entertaining to you, as well as a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. See you Tuesday!





    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  11. Packed Like Sardines

    January 15, 2015 by MelStar1

    Martin Luther King, Jr was born on this day in 1929. The Federal Holiday honoring Doctor King’s life and his work was created in 1983 and observed for the first time in 1986. The Stevie Wonder song, “Happy Birthday,” was written in 1981 to generate public support for the holiday, which had failed to pass the House of Representatives when first introduced.



    Today on StandUP!


    We had a real humdinger of a show today, maybe one of the best ever, and we kicked it off with tech entrepreneur Wall Street law partner and managing partner of Tangent Capital, Bob Rice. Pete and Bob talked about bank regulations, or the increasing lack thereof, and we somehow ended up on Libertarianism by the time the hour was done.

    Our second hour guest is a talk show legend Dick Cavett, brilliant comedic mind and author of the new book, “Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets.” This was Dick’s third visit to StandUP! Pete asked Dick about his history with Bill Cosby and his thoughts on current allegations against the man. Listen below:



    Next, actor and comic George Lopez joined us to talk about his new project, Spare Parts. It’s a film based on the story of four high school students who entered a robotics competition against top-tier collegiates and came out on top. Also discussed: stand-up comedy, twitter trolls, and of course personal grooming.

    Our final guest of the day was Seth Grahame-Smith, author of “Pride, Prejudice and Zombies” and “The Last American Vampire” and screenwriter of “Dark Shadows” and the upcoming sequel to “Beetlejuice.” Pete and Seth talked about the changing nature of the book industry, the value of reading and literature to childhood development, and a little porn.


    I can’t think of any way we could top today’s show on Friday.

    We’d have to have a guest like Noam Chomsky.

    Oh wait, WE DO.





    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  12. Mid-Morning of a Thousand Stars!

    January 14, 2015 by MelStar1

    The Golden Globes may have been last Sunday, but we played some clips for you…


    Today on StandUP!


    First up was one half of one of the most famous comedy duos of all time and an activist for the legalization of marijuana as well as an entrepreneur in the field of pot paraphernalia, Tommy Chong. Pete loves when Tommy Chong comes on the show, and today he and Pete talked about how much America’s attitudes and legislation have changed with regards to marijuana in the years since his incarceration for sending bongs across state lines in 2003. Below, hear Tommy chime in on HLN host Nancy Grace, who got into it with rapper 2 Chainz about marijuana on her show last night.

    After the smoke cleared, Barry Ritholtz sat down and chatted Pete up about consumer spending, wage stagnation and how lowered unemployment numbers can be misleading. Barry is the founder of the Big Picture Blog at Ritholtz.com, a Bloomberg View columnist, and author.

    Next, we welcomed back media trailblazer, activist and CEO of Tina Brown Live Media, Tina Brown. Pete asked Tina on to discuss her ongoing work for women’s rights across the globe, the film Selma, and her reaction to how mainstream media has handled and *should* handle events like the shootings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France.

    Then, we welcomed back former Sec’y of Labor under Bill Clinton, syndicated columnist, author and Chairman of Common Cause, Robert Reich. Pete and Robert focused a bit on foreign trade policies like the impending Trans Pacific Partnership and how that affects US manufacturing and wages. Also, you should check out the movie “Inequality for All,” featuring Reich.

    Our last guest of the day was ABC News correspondent and moderator for the Intelligence Squared debates, John Donvan. Pete asked John on to preview their next debate, happening tomorrow, on Amazon.com’s takeover of the book retail industry. Is it good for consumers? Is it good for authors? Is it unstoppable?


    Wow, what a show! I need a(nother) nap.




    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  13. Zen Wolf

    January 13, 2015 by MelStar1

    Is there a difference between a great war movie and outright propaganda, and where does American Sniper fall on that spectrum? That just one of the things we tried to figure out…


    Today on StandUP!


    After a full hour of your phone calls and and discussion on everything from Chris Kyle to Mitt Romney to the College Football championship, we were finally ready to welcome our first guest, Bill McKibben. The founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide grassroots climate change movement and the author of “Oil and Honey: the Education of an Unlikely Activist,” Bill joined Pete to discuss the current state of the environmental movement, including increased adoption of alternative energy sources like solar.

    Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon and National Review contributor Will Cain popped in for a bit of the ol’ song and dance. Today’s topics included a US absence from the unity rally in Paris and some 2016 Presidential speculation about Mitt Romney.

    Our third hour guest was actor, activist and buddhist priest, Peter Coyote. Back when Pete’s show was on POTUS, Peter Coyote used to call in as “Peter from California” and it was an honor and pleasure to have him back on the show as a guest during the first week on Insight, channel 121. He and Pete had a great, thoughtful discussion on race, equality and maintaining one’s humanity in a turbulent society. I loved every second of it, and you will too.

    Now, if you’ll excuuuuuuuuse me I am going to work on my Tommy Chong impression for tomorrow…




    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.

  14. Liftoff!

    January 12, 2015 by MelStar1

    The day is upon us! The new channel has launched and a new chapter has begun. Tune into SiriusXM Insight Channel 121 weekdays at 9am East with replays at 10pm East and find out what happened…


    Today on StandUP!


    Our first guest on the new channel was Indiana University Professor of Pediatrics, author and host of popular Youtube series, “Health Care Triage,” Dr. Aaron Carroll. Pete and Aaron talked up the finer points of the Affordable Care Act’s employee mandate and spoke again about the not-so-effective flu vaccine.

    We also had a call from regular guest, friend of the show and soon-to-be host of his own show on SXMInsight, Dean Obeidallah. AND a call-in from the host of The Takeaway, airing weekdays at 1pm East on Insight 121, John Hockenberry.

    In the second hour, CNN’s Christine Romans joined us from high up in CNN Tower to give us the economic spin on the news of the day, like plunging oil prices and violence in Nigeria.

    Next, Pete’s friend and respected journalist and author Matt Taibbi joined us to help inaugurate the new channel with just the kind of discussion we hope defines us: politics, sports, and even the ethics of journalism and the Internet all through an insightful and thoughtful lens. Pete asked Matt about Boko Haram, Charlie Hebdo, #BlackLivesMatter and even his involvement and sudden non-involvement in online newsmagazine, The Racket. You can read Matt over at Rolling Stone and pick up his books here.

    Our final guest of the first show was spiritual lecturer and bestselling author, Marianne Williamson. She joined Pete to discuss her latest book, “A Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections” and to discuss finding and maintaining spiritual balance in the face of tragedies like those that befell France last week.

    What a packed show! Let’s do this again tomorrow, and every day thereafter, shall we?




    Miss the show? Catch it here. Listen to some of our favorite interviews here.