20 Questions
PopMatters' "20 Questions" is a weekly feature of short, sassy questions aimed to encourage playful responses that reveal the gist of the artist. In addition to publishing on PopMatters, "20 Questions" appears as a nationally syndicated newspaper column on Wednesdays.
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20 Questions: Say Hi

Eric Elbogen is a music critic turned indie rock icon. His latest, Endless Wonder, just released. And he wants to name his kid after a cracker company.

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16 Jul 2013 // 11:00 PM

20 Questions: Willie Nile

Willie Nile's recently released American Ride (June), rated a '9' here on PopMatters, is powered by the alternative fuel movement for music, if you will.

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20 Questions: Denison Witmer

What started as a collection of songs for a class project in Engilsh has turned into a career that has garnered comparisons to the wounded-soul recordings of Elliott Smith. Now, Denison Witmer celebrates his new album with a 20 Questions feature full of profound insight for songwriters.

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20 Questions: Ben Greenman

Have you ever seen a juggler on a moving sidewalk? Ben Greenman, whose latest, The Slippage (released today), ponders this and other wonders of life in his response to PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Harry Shearer

What can one say about the irrepressible comedic cultural critic Harry Shearer that hasn’t already been said – or that he hasn’t already said, himself (in an array of voices)? Never short of words, Shearer has a few things to say to PopMatters.

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20 Questions: William Brittelle

With his daring electro-acoustic chamber classical album Loving the Chambered Nautilus still ringing fondly in our memory, PopMatters takes Brooklyn-based composer William Brittelle to task with our 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Dan Rather

Will Dan Rather go to Heaven? Not if God is a mosquito. Which of PopMatters 20 Questions leaves this esteemed journalist from Texas stumped, feeling "dumb as a carrot"? Read on.

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20 Questions: Kate Bornstein

"I was a Scientologist for 12 years, which is a lot more embarrassing than saying Hi, I’m a transsexual SM dyke living with borderline personality disorder," Kate Bornstein tells PopMatters 20 Questions on the release of her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger.

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20 Questions: Carter Tanton

He's been in a ton of noteworthy bands (Tulsa, the Lower Dens), has toured with Marissa Nadler, and now invites her to sing on his freewheeling, eclectic sleeper of a solo album, Freeclouds. In short, get ready: Carter Tanton is going to be a force to be reckoned with ...

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20 Questions: Ellen Ullman

Technophile, humanist and storyteller Ellen Ullman is touring for her latest, By Blood. The cult classic Close to the Machine and runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award, The Bug, are enjoying a resurgence, as well. From the sterile environs of an airport terminal, Ullman recalls a glorious range of artists and intellectuals (and the work they have produced) that have shaped her.

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20 Questions: Miriam Shor

Miriam Shor plays Cricket Caruth-Reilly, a hot powerful real estate agent in Dallas whose husband, Blake, is gay, in ABC’s new comedy, GCB, airing this Sunday, 4 March.

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20 Questions: Gail Simmons

Eat. Write. Travel. Cook. Four little words, an amuse-bouche in the great feast that is food for thought, if you will, that would lead Gail Simmons to her prestigious roles with Food & Wine Magazine, Top Chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts.

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20 Questions: Fionn Regan

The Mercury Music Prize-nominated folk artist Fionn Regan has lead a lot of living in a very short while, and while his new album has been getting raves, it's here that he reveals a strong affinity for Dylan Thomas, how his stabs at art are very much informed by his love of music, and why he might be "cruising for a bruising" in those oxblood Doc Martens ...

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20 Questions: Shudder to Think’s Craig Wedren

Former Shudder to Think frontman Craig Wedren tells us about his uber-ambitious multi-media album project and we're surprised to also find out about his affinity for the "amoral but ultimately just" Willy Wonka...

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20 Questions: William Shatner

William Shatner, Captain Kirk, Cultural Icon Extraordinaire. Shatner Rules. Like all great American actors – he’s not American. We’re not even sure he’s human. We’re certain, however, that he’s The Captain of Everything -- not least PopMatters 20 Questions.

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22 Aug 2011 // 10:00 PM

20 Questions: June Millington

Play Like a Girl, a killer vintage early '70s rock CD just released this month, is the result of experiences of over 45 years since June and Jean Milllington started their all-girl band. Playing like a girl is more than just making rock music, June tells PopMatters 20 Questions, it's about having a rock 'n' roll attitude.

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20 Questions: Jon Polito

Jon Polito’s mug is so familiar that he almost feels… familiar, like the merchant at the corner store, the beat cop in your ‘hood, or the local mobster. Yeah that's it, the local mobster.

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10 Jul 2011 // 10:00 PM

20 Questions: David Bromberg

Grammy nominated Americana musicians' musician, David Bromberg released his new CD, Use Me this month. John Hiatt, Levon Helm, Linda Ronstadt and others were happy to join in with him. This beloved collaborator talks with PopMatters 20 Questions about the many influences, musical and otherwise, that have shaped him.

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20 Questions: Simon Van Booy

Simon Van Booy’s Everything Beautiful Began After published this month. It’s a perfect summer novel for romantic intellectuals. Read here on PopMatters who this romantic would take a bullet for.

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20 Questions: Thomas Dolby

As the steampunk aesthetic embraces technology past, present, and future, so too Thomas Dolby personifies the creative and intellectual process of musical ideas past, present and future. He also turns out rather nicely in steampunk fashion. His new album, A Map of the Floating City, will release in the near future -- this summer.

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20 Questions: David Thorne

Humorist and Satirist David Thorne’s book, The Internet is a Playground, published in April. Finally, he gets his biggest break, his surefire launch to celebritydom, here on PopMatters 20 Questions. (The royalty check is in the mail, David.)

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20 Questions: Meg Wolitzer

Bestselling author Meg Woliter's The Uncoupling, a humorous novel about female desire, publishes this month. Wolitzer talks with PopMatters 20 Questions about, among other things, the simple pleasures of having one's own man shirt.

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20 Questions: Jonathan Franklin

Award-winning investigative journalist and Hugh Laurie-kinda lookalike Jonathan Franklin has a knack for finding humor in the funniest places. Hugo Chavez as stand-up comedian we get. But Patrick Buchanan...?

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20 Questions: Eisley

After leaving their major-label home and releasing the best album of their career, Eisley's Sherri DuPree-Bemis took some time out of her day to answer PopMatters' 20 Questions, revealing the importance of "Sun King", how awesome Abraham Lincoln was for rocking that beard, and why she'll always choose lightsabers each every time ...

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20 Questions: Hal Needham

When they first light that match, hold your breath! If you inhale, you'll suck in the flames. We'd all be wiser to heed the advice of Hal Heedham, author of Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life (February 2011, Little, Brown & Company)

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20 Questions: David Anderegg

David Anderegg's 'Nerds: How Dorks, Dweebs, Techies, and Trekkies Can Save America' (Tarcher / Penguin, now in paperback) calls for embracing the socially awkward yet intellectually gifted among us.

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20 Questions: Over the Rhine

The coarse, dry dirt is sensed below the sweet, blooming fields of this Ohio-grown duo. Karin and Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine, making music from the bittersweet notes in life for more than 20 years, now, talk with PopMatters 20 Questions about what must go into the ground to make things grow. Their latest, The Long Surrender, released this month.

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20 Questions: Kim Edwards

'Labyrinth walker' and award winning author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards talks with PopMatters 20 Questions about allowing oneself to head out into uncertain territory -- be it in the middle of a lake or the middle of a story -- and see where the journey takes you. Her latest, The Lake of Dreams published in January.

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13 Feb 2011 // 10:00 PM

20 Questions: Luke Doucet

Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Luke Doucet sits down for an epic 20 Questions, where he expounds on the virtues of Facebook, the White Album, and pomegranates (yum!)

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20 Questions: Ariel Sabar

Before award winning author Ariel Sabar begins his book tour for Heart of the City this Valentine’s Day, he tells PopMatters 20 Questions about the lasting influence of an excellent newspaper editor he once knew.

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4 Feb 2011 // 2:30 AM

20 Questions: Gin Blossoms

Gin Blossoms are back with their new full-length, No Chocolate Cake. Lead guitarist Scotty Johnson sat down with PopMatters to answer 20 Questions.

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27 Jan 2011 // 3:00 AM

20 Questions: Cloud Cult

Environmentally conscious indie-rock band Cloud Cult sit down with PopMatters 20 Questions on the heels of their recent release, Light Chasers.

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2 Jan 2011 // 10:00 PM

20 Questions: James Blackshaw

Virtuoso guitarist James Blackshaw plugs in for the first time on his new album, All is Falling. He sits down for PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: James McManus

James McManus is one of those writers who can write about any topic and no matter the subject, and you'll be hooked. But you don’t have to be a gambler to get caught up in the thrill of Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker. He hooks us here at PopMatters 20 Questions.

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2 Dec 2010 // 10:00 PM

20 Questions: Dwight Twilley

Power pop singer-songwriter Dwight Twilley has a new album, Green Blimp, out now on Big Oak Records. He sits down for PopMatters 20 Questions, reflecting on his influences, his lost guitars, and his long career in rock 'n' roll.

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24 Nov 2010 // 4:48 AM

20 Questions: Apparat

Techno DJ Apparat chills out a bit with PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Lee Majors

Veteran actor Lee Majors is back as Col. Steve Austin of The Six Million Dollar Man (complete series releasing on DVD), as the father to the role where he was once the son, in the upcoming film, The Big Valley and as a rather Colt Seavers-like character (of The Fall Guy) here at PopMatters 20 Questions.

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15 Nov 2010 // 10:00 PM

20 Questions: Elf Power

Elephant Six collective Elf Power sit down for 20 Questions, shedding light on serious matters, including CGI, salmon jerky, and how best to get rid of Mormons knocking at your door.

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20 Questions: Catherine Coulter

Prior to becoming a New York Times bestselling author, Catherine Coulter worked on Wall Street writing funny speeches for an actuarial honcho. “I've never done anything that would land me in prison,” she swears to PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Autumn Reeser

On the small screen alone, Autumn Reeser is also known as ‘Taylor Townsend’ in the final two seasons of 'The OC'; as Jr. agent Lizzie Grant in 'Entourage', and as ‘Katie’, in 'No Ordinary Family', and here at PopMatters 20 Questions she's known as, well, the charming Autumn Reeser.

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5 Nov 2010 // 6:00 AM

20 Questions: John Grant

Upon the heels of his acclaimed solo-debut, Queen of Denmark, former Czars frontman John Grant sits down with PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Tom Payne

What is it that fills our eyes with stars and makes us desire to lift one among us upon an altar – and then consider setting fire to the altar? Tom Payne ponders this proclivity in his new book, Fame.

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20 Questions: Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and philosopher Oliver Sacks possesses a tireless intellect, a perpetual curiosity, and a compassionate understanding of humans. In The Minds Eye, he explores the physical and perceptual disconnect between what we see and what we perceive.

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20 Questions: Emma McLaughlin & Nikola Kraus

Joined at the hip: The Nanny Diaries authors Emma McLaughlin and Nikola Kraus have a friendship that is worthy of its own book, as evident in their replies to PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Greil Marcus

"Few if any American cultural historians take the great deep American Breath like Greil Marcus," writes Robert Loss. With his latest, Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010 in mind, we’re pleased to have Marcus back with us, this time in the playful framework of PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Patrick K. O’Donnell

Award-winning / Lady Gaga / Katy Perry / Top 40 listening author Patrick K. O'Donnell is an expert on WWII espionage, special operations, and counterinsurgency on the modern battlefield -- and he's with us here at PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Steven Johnson

Pop thought guru Steven Johnson taps into neurobiology and pop culture -- with a few stops in-between -- to explore what fuels those "Eureka!" moments in his new book, Where Good Ideas Come From.

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20 Questions: Mark Mustian

The Gendarme author, attorney and city commissioner Mark Mustian reveals to PopMatters 20 Questions a deep sensitivity to life for the average person; from the struggles of his Depression-era father to the modern working man, just trying to pay his utility bills.

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20 Questions: Brendan James

Singer-songwriter and pianist Brendan James is touring for his latest CD, Brendan James, but before he hit the road, he settled down for a moment with PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Sam Hoffman

Sam Hoffman is the author of Old Jews Telling Jokes, based on the enormously popular website of the same name. He has worked with such legends as Woody Allen and has produced, directed, and assistant-directed movies such as The Royal Tenenbaums, School of Rock, Dead Man Walking, Groundhog Day, and Curse of the Jade Scorpion.

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20 Questions: Tao Lin

American poet, novelist, short story writer, and artist Tao Lin’s new book, Richard Yates releases this week. Lin tells PopMatters 20 Questions that he’s never hired a hit man, or been on a spa vacation, or used Prozac. Honestly.

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20 Questions: David Michôd, Director of ‘Animal Kingdom’

Animal Kingdom is the critically acclaimed feature debut of young Australian director, David Michôd, who has helmed many short films that have made the festival circuit.

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20 Questions: Melora Creagor-Rasputina

Rasputina's newest CD, Sister Kinderhook, came out in June. Rasputina's founder, Melora Creager, tells PopMatters 20 Questions about the lure of living in an era past, when what was essential could be made by hand -- and giants walked among us.

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20 Questions: Marc Cohn

Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Marc Cohn tells PopMatters 20 Questions how Ray Charles (channeled through his producer, Jerry Wexler) taught him almost everything he needed to know about singing. It’s a (not so simple) trick involving a full cup of coffee. Read on.

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20 Questions: Vikas Swarup

Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup's latest, Six Suspects, is out in paperback this month. He confesses to PopMatters 20 Questions that he's sometimes stopped on the streets of the various countries he works in because people mistake him for James Bond.

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20 Questions: Gene Weingarten

Gene Weingarten, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, nationally syndicated humor columnist and writer for The Washington Post, and now one-half cartoonist, has a new book out. More importantly, he answers PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: A. J. Jacobs

He coos, he digerdoos, he pole dances, he plays harmonica – without a harmonica -- and he’s funny, too. In his latest book of bold experimentation, My Life as an Experiment, A. J. Jacobs, Editor-at-Large for Esquire, lives as a woman, becomes a human guinea pig, and otherwise provides an edutaining look at things we humans tend to hold dear – and then he turns it all askew.

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20 Questions: Sloane Crosley

Satirist Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number regales with hilarious tales involving amateur clowns, a kleptomaniac roommate and a black bear. PopMatters 20 Questions found her at a seemingly safe and quiet spot, for the moment, someplace with contemplation-inducing bathroom tiles…

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20 Questions: Sarah Silverman

The satirical, taboo-busting, notoriously potty-mouthed Sarah Silverman has written a book about … well, pee – among other things. “Big S” talks with PopMatters 20 Questions about her affinity for Bugs Bunny, an affection for Mr. Rogers, and how, with the help of a time machine, she might have helped steer Hitler from his destructive course.

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20 Questions: Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow tells PopMatters 20 Questions about how an indulgence from a librarian and an insult at a sci-fi writing workshop were the best encouragement – and advice -- he ever received. The latest result from those prods, both gentle and not so: For the Win (May 2010).

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20 Questions: Dave Barry

Dave Barry was born in Armonk, New York, in 1947 and has been steadily growing older ever since without ever actually reaching maturity -- a condition which he struggles with in heart-rending detail and bare-his-breast honesty in his newest book, I'll Mature When I'm Dead.

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20 Questions: Kim Severson

Food writer Kim Severson’s latest is Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life. Her ideal guests at the Ritz, she tells PopMatters 20 Questions, would be Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lucille Ball.

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20 Questions: Steve Almond

Steve Almond, who’s latest book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life (13 April) talks with PopMatters 20 Questions about high ideals for literature – and how sexy William Shatner is.

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20 Questions: Mark Kurlansky

Mark Kurlansky is a Renaissance man whose work should be read, learned from, and admired. His latest, Eastern Stars publishes this week. He tells PopMatters 20 Questions why he’ll take rebels over saints any day.

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20 Questions: Anne Lamott

Everyone in Anne Lamott's books is sort of screwed up, but she stocks them with an irresistible humor and core decency. Her latest, Imperfect Birds, releases 6 April.

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20 Questions: Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley, author of more than 29 critically acclaimed books, presents his latest in the Leonid McGill series, Known to Evil (releasing 23 March).

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20 Questions: Lisa Lutz

Bestselling author Lisa Lutz identifies the essentials in life, coffee and vodka, like this: “One makes the morning tolerable. And coffee lights up the evening.” Enjoy either beverage while reading The Spellman’s Strike Again, releasing this week.

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20 Questions: Chang-Rae Lee

The award winning author of The Surrendered talks about improvisation, the rigor of limitation, and sometimes having to take a risk.

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20 Questions: Holopaw

Holopaw's Patrick Quinney reveals a secret love of Twin Peaks, a knowledge of all things Craig Biggio, and the 7" he'd love to argue about.

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20 Questions: Patty Larkin

This year marks Patty Larkin’s 25th year of recording. The master musician’s new CD, 25 (releasing 9 March), features 25 of her most requested love songs, re-worked in acoustic format, and joined by 25 friends.

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20 Questions: Superjail!: Christy Karacas and Steve Warbrick

Superjail! creators Christy Karacas (Cartoon Sushi), and Stephen Warbrick (Beavis and Butthead, Celebrity Deathmatch) were turned loose, briefly, to answer our 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Katharine McMahon

“When I’m stuck”, historical novelist Katharine McMahon tells PopMatters 20 Questions, “theatre unlocks my brain.”

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20 Questions: Steve Schiltz of the Hurricane Bells

Longwave frontman Steve Schiltz took time off from his main band to form Hurricane Bells and wound up on the New Moon soundtrack.

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20 Questions: The 88

After years of being pop music's "best kept secret", the 88 are now breaking out with their theme song to the NBC show Community.

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20 Questions: Githead

With a love of Eastwood and Bosch, this supergroup tackles 20 Questions while basking in the warm critical glow that third album Landing has received.

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20 Questions: Bruce Greenwood

The prolific actor Bruce Greenwood shows up as yet another character for 20 Questions -- this time as a rather erudite cake designer with a mean edge on a ’53 Telecaster.

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20 Questions: Sandra Brown

Bestselling author Sandra Brown chats about her weep-inducing, wavering confidence and advises that one should be wary of hiring a discount hit man.

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20 Questions: Alison Brie and Donald Glover of ‘Community’

Alison Brie, who plays Trudy on Mad Men and Donald Glover, who wrote for 30 Rock before joining the Community cast, indulge in a friendly, teasing, tête à tête of sorts, as they consider PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Old Canes

Stealing Kurt Vonnegut books? Getting choked up during M*A*S*H? Appleseed Cast frontman Chris Crisci talks about all of these things and more as his folk-affected side-project releases their second album.

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20 Questions: Fuck Buttons

Stealing penguins! A secret connection with Garfield! Dropping fruit pastille in the primordial ooze! Experimental UK noise duo Fuck Buttons discuss this and more.

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20 Questions: Barb Johnson

From a balcony overlooking the flood of New Orleans to 'The Bubble' laundromat, where the city's characters come to wash it all out, award-winning author Barb Johnson talks with PopMatters 20 Questions.

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20 Questions: Patricia Cornwell

20 Questions caught up with award-winning, international best-selling author Patricia Cornwell in a rare moment when her feet were on the ground.

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20 Questions: Anvil

Still riding high off of the success of their acclaimed documentary (and likely Oscar-nominee), the founders of Canada's famed metal trailblazers Anvil sit down to answer 20 Questions about family, weed, and a surprising love of Star Trek ...

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20 Questions: Aziz Ansari

Named Entertainment Weekly’s top 12 future stars of comedy, Aziz Ansari has a voracious appetite for performing, eating, and… just about anything else that is subject to an appetite.

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20 Questions: Ramsey Lewis

Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis chats with PopMatters 20 Questions about feeding the spirit and living in the moment.

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4 Oct 2009 // 9:59 PM

20 Questions: Vic Chesnutt

Chesnutt talks to PopMatters 20 Questions about his upcoming work with Jonathan Richman, taking advice from Michael Stipe, and how his copy of Number One Hits of the Sixties is still the greatest album of all time.

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20 Questions: Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby tells PopMatters 20 Questions about his affiliation with Seinfeld’s George Costanza, his soon-to-be-released album with Ben Folds, and this great bargain he got from a Russian website…

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20 Questions: Terence Blanchard

The cerebral, soulful, three-time Grammy award winning trumpet player and composer Terence Blanchard tells us how our turbulent, dynamic world inspires his beautiful music.

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20 Questions: Charlie Louvin

Back in 2009, Charlie Louvin, Country Music Hall of Fame legend and half of the immortal country duo the Louvin Brothers, told PopMatters 20 Questions about the best thing he ever got – for only $3.

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20 Questions: Wayne Hancock

The master of juke joint swing performs like a visiting country doctor, or maybe a preacher, ministering to the rural folks in three-hour, boogie healing woogie doses. Here a little shot is given to us...

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20 Questions: Christopher O’Riley

Critically acclaimed concert pianist Christopher O'Riley’s recording of Nirvana’s "Heart Shaped Box" will "engender sustained hearing loss, under repeated and hi-res sound reproduction."

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20 Questions: James Rollins

Best-selling author James Rollins reveals a talent to PopMatters 20 Questions not otherwise seen in his many books -- beware, kitties and politicians, lest he approach you wielding a scalpel.

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20 Questions: Marshall Crenshaw

Marshall Crenshaw chats with PopMatters 20 Questions about the cultural offerings, high and not so high, that he gets a kick out of -- from to Duke Ellington to Captain Beefheart.

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20 Questions: Ridley Pearson

Ridley Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of killer crime fiction and award-winning author of young readers’ books, rather fancies himself a bit like George Clooney and Harold, of Harold and His Purple Crayon -- sans the blanket, of course.

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20 Questions: Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper advises travelers, “Never mind the nuclear reactors in the distance, it’s heaven in the Midwest” – and other tips for PopMatters 20 Questions readers.

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20 Questions: Eleni Mandell

Acclaimed songwriter Eleni Mandell answers PopMatters ‘Miss America’-like 20 Questions with self-deprecating humor.

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20 Questions: Aleksandar Hemon

“Hell,” Hemon tells PopMatters 20 Questions, “is being stuck at an airport without a book, starving for thought, forced to watch CNN.” Heaven might be a bathtub full of Turkish coffee …

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20 Questions: Crayton Robey

The Boys in the Band defined a moment in LGBT history. Crayton Robey explores that history in Making the Boys, which debuted at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

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20 Questions: Nona Hendryx

In 1962, Nona Hendryx shared a bill with everyone from Bo Diddley to the Marvelettes. She took some time with PopMatters to talk about Buster Crabbe and her knack for fixing TVs.

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20 Questions: Dave Wakeling

Dave Wakeling, founding member, lead vocalist and songwriter for the legendary ska band, the English Beat, is recording and touring extensively these days. Catch up with Wakeling here on 20 Questions.

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