Big Sell 30 Day 28: The Secret History of Twin Peaks

Sean Johnson here with my final solo Big Sell of #BigSell30.

If you’re reading this post or if you’ve listened to our podcast I assume you know something about the joy that comes with allowing yourself to indulge in pop culture obsession. I’m describing the type of fanaticism that compels you to grab onto something in the world of pop culture and study it, analyze it, discuss it and  become more emotionally involved with it than what might be considered healthy. Today I’m going to Big Sell you something that is connected to the origins of my pop culture devotions.

Before I spent hours attempting to figure out the meaning of the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42; or fretting over the potency of the alien black oil or debating the ramifications of having more than one slayer exist at a time — there was one question that consumed me:


twin-peaksThe first season of Twin Peaks ushered in what is now considered to be the second golden age of television. The weirdly brilliant show from co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost is an exquisite mixture of horror flick, comedy, Nancy Drew detective story and a very niche food channel show that focuses on damn good coffee and pie.

You may have heard that the show is being re-booted and a third season will air on Showtime next year. Yay? Uh-oh?

I am praying to the pop culture gods that this new season will not disappoint. It’s a safe bet we’ll discuss the new season on Inside Pop as soon as it premieres. But for now I will Big Sell you on what can be considered a prequel to the reboot. To tide fans over until the new Twin Peaks season arrives, Mark Frost has written “The Secret History of Twin Peaks.” It’ a 300 page hard cover novel that details the history of Twin Peaks; from a Lewis and Clark encounter up until Agent Cooper’s run in with a mirror. My guess is the ratio of answers provided versus question raised will be low – but that’s what we expect – and what we love – about the Twin Peaks experience, right?

the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks-cover-mark-frostThe Big Sell of the novel is for the die hard Twin Peaks fan. But if for some reason you have yet to discover this amazing show do yourself a favor and watch it (don’t binge; savor each episode). The Pilot is phenomenal and the rest of the first season just gets better. The second season goes off the rails – but the episode that finally reveals the identity of Laura Palmer’s murderer is one of the scariest things you’ll ever see on television (yes, the scene is just as blood-curdling as last week’s The Walking Dead depcition of Negan’s bloody bad; but instead of a dark forest, it takes place in Laura Palmer’s living room).

If you give the book a try, make sure to tweet me @popinsiders. We can obsess together over every mention of owls, logs and lodges.

Check out the book trailer (chock full of easter eggs) HERE

Lady Gaga, The Walking Dead, Mary J Blige, Big Sell 30 – IP 50

While you’re scouring costume stores to find a David S. Pumpkins Halloween costume, get your pop culture fix in this week’s episode!

lady-gaga-album-coverWe review Lady Gaga’s new album, Joanne, with friend, DJ and devoted Lady Gaga fan, James Barker. We discuss the music, her slightly stripped down image, last weekend’s SNL performance, and so much more! (Seriously, we couldn’t stop talking about her and well…multiple tangents occurred).

the-walking-dead-jeffrey-dean-morganThen, Sean tries to contain himself while describing the violent and tragic season premiere of The Walking Dead. SPOILER ALERT- he reveals details of what went down with hot but deadly Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan and his deadly bat, Lucille.

Plus, we continue #BigSell30 with a special Big Sell from guest Matthew Billy, host of the music history podcast, Between the Liner Notes. It’s an incredible account of an impromptu jam session with Pete Seeger of “Sailing Up, Sailing Down” that he had the privilege to witness.

All that and Amita’s thoughts on the Mary J. Blige short-lived Crispy Chicken commercial- no spoiler necessary…you can probably guess her reaction.

Check us out on Twitter & Instagram @PopInsiders to see what we’re enjoying in pop culture throughout the week and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30!

Big Sell 30 Day 26: Rose by Jeanne Balibar

Hello – Sean here with DAY 26 of our Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. Today’s #BigSell30 is inspired by one of our listeners, @miniarcadia150 who recommended the video “Mirate,” by Latin singer, Aldrey. The song is in Spanish and the video includes English subtitles. It’s a power pop ballad with a message of self acceptance. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

This video got me thinking about all of the music I love that’s sung in a language I don’t understand. Usually when  it comes to songs, lyrics are just as important (if not more important) to me as the music. But in the case of this Big Sell – I have loved the song “Rose” by French singer Jeanne Balibar for years and have no idea what it’s about. But it still moves me.

roseCheck out “Rose” on Spotify or here on YouTube. It’s moody, ethereal and hypnotic. I love it and sing along in made up French words and can only hope the song isn’t about killing kittens or the merits of reality stars turned political candidates. And I also ask you to think of your favorite song that is sung in a language you don’t understand. Leave a comment here or tweet us @PopInsiders and let us know why you love it!

Just a few days left in our #BigSell30! We hope your head is bursting with all of the new pop culture you’ve discovered this month. We have some great Big Sells ahead for you in these last few days. Stay tuned!

Big Sell 30 Day 25: The Perfect Podcast

perfectpodcast-a2Sean here with our 25th #BigSell for our Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. This is a ‘perfect’ big sell. It’s also a bit narcissistic! Hosting and producing Inside Pop with my partner in crime Amita Patel has been creatively fulfilling, challenging in the best way possible and super fun! I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to launch a second podcast a few months ago. My big sell for you today is my ‘other’ podcast, The Perfect Podcast.

The Perfect Podcast celebrates the highest achievements in music, film, literature, food, visual arts and more! In each episode I talk to a different person about the creation they believe achieves perfection. From the perfect short story to the perfect music video to the perfect cocktail to the perfect skyscraper – the show explores and celebrates the artists who have achieved the elusive, intimidating, confounding and 100% subjective state of . . . Perfection!

So far I’ve interviewed a runner about the time he unexpectedly achieved a Perfect Run, an editor from Publisher’s weekly about his pick for a Perfect Graphic Novel, and a cigar aficionado about his go-to daily Perfect Cigar.

Recently I interviewed Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, about her choice for a perfect fictional character. I was ecstatic when she chose the leader of the X-Men and former queen of Wakanda – Storm. It’s a great conversation that touches on representation, feminism and kick-ass Mohawks.

The goal of the podcast is to celebrate all types of culture with a diverse roster of super smart, passionate people. In addition to getting my guests to share their expert opinions I also ask them to discuss their personal connections to the subject. In my most recent episode art critic Vince Aletti discusses his Perfect Portrait: a picture that inspired him to come to NYC 50 years ago and has remained a totem for him ever since.

In my “perfect world”: 1) You take a listen to and love The Perfect Podcast and subscribe 2) In the future I get to interview Mark Romanek about “Got Til It’s Gone” (my pick for a perfect music video); Nile Rodgers about Bowie’s Let’s Dance (or Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” or Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”); Shonda Rhimes, David Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Questlove and the list goes on and on and on.

Coming soon . . . A Perfect Song (you’ll have to listen to hear what my guest chooses).

Follow Inside Pop @PopInsiders and let us know how you’re enjoyed #BigSell30.

Big Sell 30 Day 24: Instagram’s Beautiful Destinations

Happy Monday! Amita here again starting the home stretch of the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. #BigSell30 has enlightened me on so many new things that I want to try to branch out and experience more and more every day. (Truth be told, it’s also a fun challenge to find something really unique to share with y’all everyday!)

I know you can all agree that going back to work after the weekend can be tough so today’s Big Sell is a little Monday escape. I’m a big fan of Instagram and enjoy nature and scenic photography. I also enjoy traveling and while I wish I could travel more than I do, the Beautiful Destinations Instagram account lets me live vicariously through their incredible photos and videos. Now, with over 7 million followers, sbeautiful-destinationsome of you may already be following them or have at least heard of them, but if you haven’t, you’ll feel the itch to travel really soon.

When you scroll through the stunning photos – you can enjoy the colorful fall foliage in the Catskills, see white sand beaches in Îles Aux Cerfs (Had to google this one- it’s actually on the island of Mauritius) and then be transported to a beautiful waterfall in the lush landscape of Iceland! I’ve said enough, and now want to book a trip to Iceland…

Here’s a sampling of some of their posts:
bd-chile bd-portofino bd-turkey

Take a minute, escape from the norm, beat the Monday blues and be prepared to book a vacation soon!

Be sure to tweet us @PopInsiders to let us know how your #BigSell30 is going. Only a couple of days left to send us a Big Sell- don’t wait!



Big Sell 30 Day 23: Kerry Washington & Aziz Ansari

Amita here with your #BigSell30 today! We’re in our last week of Big Sells and looking back at the last few weeks, as much as we felt like this was a challenge for us and for you, I have also realized how much I’ve learned about myself and felt like I’ve also revealed a lot about myself through this process. The Big Sell is getting deep!

That being said, I’ll reveal a little more to preface today’s Big Sell: As a television and digital producer, one of my favorite jobs is to interview someone about their process. I had the honor and pleasure to do this recently with some of music’s biggest stars (Can’t discuss who now, but will soon!) and I just revel in hearing who inspires them or what it took to create a specific project/album/role.

actors-on-actorsVariety Magazine’s Actors on Actors series does exactly that but with a slight twist on the typical interview format. In this web series, two actors interview each other – it feels like you’re in a personal conversation- you get to see actors learn about each other, and from each other. The episode I’d like to Big Sell features two of Television’s biggest stars (and friends of the podcast): Kerry Washington and recent Emmy Award winner Aziz Ansari.

kerry-and-azizTheir conversation is a revealing look into who they are as performers; but also focuses on roles they took behind the camera (Aziz on Master of None and Kerry on Confirmation). It’s smart, funny, insightful and at 22 minutes, it’s a rare opportunity to dive deep into their individual processes as actors, their struggles as people of color in Hollywood and how they are now in positions of power because of their hard work and success. I love to hear insider info like this and you don’t always get this much information in a 5 minute late night talk show appearance or 3 minute morning show chat.

Kerry gives great insight into her role as a producer on the HBO movie Confirmation and I think she’s a great interviewer. Whenever Scandal is over, she should consider some type of interview series, she’s really smart, thoughtful and asks great questions. (Agent Advice!)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (5622630r) Kerry Washington and Aziz Ansari Variety Studio: Actors on Actors, Los Angeles, America - 03 April 2016

Aziz gives a great insider look into how his hit Netflix series Master of None came about and he reveals a great tidbit about the two episodes he directed- “Parents” and “Nashville” (they were his first attempts at directing and they shot the series out of order, so those two were shot at the end).

It’s such a great series and I’m already excited to watch the Mindy Kaling/Conan O’Brien conversation as well as the Courtney B. Vance/Tracee Ellis Ross one as well. Enjoy!

Leave a comment below or tweet us @popinsiders to let us know what you think of today’s Big Sell. Also, be sure to let us know how #BigSell30 is going for you and you still have a few days to tweet us a Big Sell to be featured in the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge!


Big Sell 30 Day 21: Six Degrees of Music Separation

Hey all- Amita here with today’s #BigSell30. We’ve got a few more days left of our month long challenge of trying out one new piece of pop culture everyday.

When I was preparing this post to Big Sell this article, I told Sean I would try to avoid selling another song or album, which I must say was harder than I thought since I’m always listening and discovering new music and want to share  it with everyone! (see Lake Street Dive & Rationale). But when I saw this article and where it lead me to, I had to make a tiny exception. And technically, it’s not really a song. It’s a really fun game!

So, this Big Sell comes from another Big Sell. When we were promoting #BigSell30 in late September, my cousin Sanat Patel tweeted us a great article from fivethirtyeight about the most sampled song in history. “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons has been sampled over 2,000 times over the last few decades! Artists who have used this popular sample include N.W.A., The Prodigy, heavy metal band Slipknot, Janet Jackson and David Bowie. It is a pretty interesting read and gives a ton of info about the history of this particular sample- check it out here. Thanks cousin!

I have to admit, I got a sample education and the article cited another website as the source for its sampling data- WhoSampled. I had to look into this info site and find out more. As fivethirtyeight describes, “Every day, fanatical music lovers identify hundreds of samples from songs old and new and add them wiki-style to the database” and then the staff at WhoSampled vets each submission before entering it on the site. We’ve all heard a ton of samples throughout the years and it’s pretty awesome to go to a site or app to find out where the original sample came from. But the game that I discovered on WhoSampled takes it to another level- and immediately became my Big Sell!

On their home page they promote a fun, music info game called, Six Degrees of Music Separation – a play on the movie themed game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I was immediately intrigued. This game prompts you to enter two artists and they have some crazy algorithm that figures out how many degrees they are separated by using remixes, producers, covers, samples and more!

I put it to the test using two of our Big Sells: Lake Street Dive and Roman GianArthur- check out the results- did you know that Paul McCartney and Erykah Badu would make that connection?


It’s fun, addictive and you can play it for hours…no really, you could. (I just stopped writing this blog to put in random artists for 20 min.)

Enjoy the samples, the game and I’m sorry if you may not be as productive at work today :/

Only a few days left of The Big Sell 30 Day Challenge! Be sure to Tweet us @PopInsiders to let us know how #BigSell30 is going for you and there is still time to send us a big sell!




Big Sell 30 Day 20: There’s Always Room For Chocolate

Sean here with an Inside Pop first. Over the course of the past 11 months, despite our love for all things edible, Amita and I have never covered anything food related on Inside Pop. Well, that’s about to change as I #BigSell you an amazing new cook book called, There’s Always Room for Chocolate: Recipes from Brooklyn’s Chocolate Room.

12burner-chocoalte-web1-master180There are many things to love about this book. First of all, its origins. Before Brooklyn became the bastion of handcrafted, artisanal preciousness; the dessert cafe, The Chocolate Room opened on 5th Ave in Park Slope Brooklyn and evolved into the epicenter of chocolately deliciousness. A cookbook to help bring their amazing treats beyond Brooklyn borders was inevitable. Secondly, the recipes are easy to follow and give you everything you need to reproduce dishes like The Brownie Sundae, Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Cookies and a classic Chocolate Cream Pie. The New York Times sings the book’s praises in a recent review.

And finally, the editor. Full disclosure I’m married to the man who helped shape this great book. So although I may not be completely objective, I can attest to the attention, effort, artistry and care that was put into creating this wonderful new cookbook.

Check it out at your local bookstore or order it here on Amazon.

We have 10 more days of #BigSell30; 10 more chances to discover and experience one new piece of pop culture every day during the month of October. Follow us on Twitter @popinsiders for daily recommendations and to share your choices and experiences. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BigSell30.




Moonlight, Mary J. Blige, Queen Sugar, Alexa – IP49

Is Fall 2016 shaping up to be one of the greatest seasons for Pop Culture ever? Consider our latest episode that celebrates the ridiculous heights achieved in music, film and TV in just the past 7 days.

First up we discuss the independent feature, Moonlight which opens this week. This movie has filled Sean’s soul and rocked his world so hard that it gets the full House of Hyperbole treatment. Find out why he thinks this film cannot be missed!


Then, we discuss the new single from the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige. Mary has sat on the throne for 2 decades but we think her new song, “Thick of It,” is one of the most soul baring and emotionally gut wrenching songs she’s ever recorded. We also reveal the role Mary has played in our personal friendship and podcast partnership.

Plus, we talk about the new television drama on OWN, Queen Sugar. The show is halfway through its first season and continues to bring an impressive blend of  melodrama, social realism and the most gorgeous cinematography on TV. All hail Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay! Whether you’re a huge fan or haven’t had a chance to catch it, Amita shares a tip on the ‘best’ way to view past and upcoming episodes.

And #BigSell30 moves into the home stretch with a Big Sell from friends of the show Caroline and Tom Romita (and their new best friend, Alexa).

Big Sell 30 Day 18: Rationale

Hey all! Amita here with today’s Big Sell. The #BigSell30 has kept me on my pop culture toes this month! We hope it’s been fun for all of you to experience one piece of pop culture every day for 30 days too.

If there was a prize for trying to combine a bunch of Big Sells and make a Super Big Sell- I think this might qualify! 🙂 Take some Black Excellence, with a dash of British influence, (inspired by our fellow British podcasters JoJCast) initially discovered on my Spotify Daily Mix and one of his tracks qualifies as a Super Short Song!

As I mentioned before, I have been enjoying my Daily Mixes from Spotify and three of my mixes have usually been pretty straight forward – one is mostly mainstream pop, one is hip-hop/rap and one is Soul/R&B. But the 4th Mix is a great mix of mostly unknown artists that Spotify curated just for me and it’s where I found today’s Big Sell- Zimbabwe-born British singer-songwriter, Rationale. 

I instantly felt David Bowie, Tracy Chapman, Sade, INXS, James Blake and so many more vibes from Rationale. He came out with an EP last year and the song I heard in my Daily Mix was Fast Lane“. It’s a great mid-tempo song, but his voice is something else. It has such depth and soul and I had to listen to more. The next single I became obsessed with is the title cut, Fuel to the Fire” which is an emotional song that has some 80’s influences with a modern pop feeling. The music video is captivating and a perfect compliment to his powerful lyrics- check it out here. I’m also enjoying “The Re.Up” and his latest singles “Palms” and “Something For Nothing”. (Yes I named basically all of his tracks and I don’t care- I fell in LOVE with all of his music!)

As you can see, I became obsessed and started to do some more research to find more info about him. Here’s the skinny on Rationale: He is 32, loves to dance and also produces all of his own music. He did an interview explaining why he called himself Rationale and the reason seems like it’s kismet that I found him for #BigSell30:

L: Why choose the word “rationale” in particular?

R: I had a job in a charity call centre and the boss told us: “Today we’re going to be selling stuff, make sure you get an extra £1 out of people as it’s for charity. Give them an introduction and a hard sell, then, once you’ve got their attention, give them the rationale.” That word stuck with me.

Hard Sell- Big Sell…it’s meant to be! He already has a few notable fans- Pharrell, Justin Timberlake and Elton John have all praised him over the last year and his full album release is scheduled for next spring. He is officially saved on my Spotify and I KNOW that Sean is going love him. I can’t wait for all of you to listen- mark my words and remember his name, he is going to blow up very soon in the states and you can thank me later.

Please tweet us @PopInsiders or leave a comment below and tell us what you think of Rationale!

And don’t forget to tweet us to let us know how your #BigSell30 Challenge is going.