Creativity on the Brain

A few people have recently asked about podcasts on creativity, so I mentioned the “Your Brain on Activism” episodes of our podcast Before You Leap. In part 1, researcher Charles Limb talks about his work studying the brains of hip hop and jazz musicians while they are improvising. Also, Anastasia Khoo from the Human Rights Campaign describes her award-winning online campaign to highlight marriage equality. And activist Niaz Dory describes a fishy method for gaining an audience’s trust. In Part 2, a talk with author Peter McGraw of the The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Plus, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore on his work to expose Chevron’s polluting ways, and John Sellers, co-founder of the Ruckus Society and of Agit-Pop Communications, on creativity and nonviolent direct action.

Now, podcast summaries.

On Judge John Hodgman, it’s the holiday egg nog season, so the Judge is in his nog tank – European style! A couple have a drive-through conundrum – maybe they’re eating too much fast food? Rejecting gifts – ok or not? Parents have a dispute over ski trips and missing school –both the Judge and Jesse have conflicts of interest! Defending yourself from a shark attack – the nose or the eyes? The Judge turns to the Stuff You Should Know podcast for a precedent. Grease and 1950’s nostalgia – give props to Sha Na Na, and be sure to check out Andy Daly’s Podcast Pilot Project episode with Wolfman Hotdog. Finally, a touching email from a High School writing teacher who reached a tough-to-reach kid with his assignment to write on the topic, “Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich.” In the Bay Area this weekend? Be sure to check out the Dead Pilots Society performance on Sunday January 10 at 3pm at SF Sketchfest. The troupe in a performance of Only Child, the pilot John Hodgman wrote in 2014, and the performance will feature the Judge and a cast of actual teens in the teenager roles.

On this week’s Savage Lovecast, there’s so much for Dan to talk about at the top of the show: Cosby, Tamar Rice, Affluenza boy and his enabling Mom, and then there’s Oregon. And Obama’s executive order on guns. And Trump. But enough of that, on to the calls. A woman has been seeing a great, kinky guy – but she doesn’t like his sexting. Should she tell him? A bi-woman has a guy who doesn’t like her to hook up with a woman if he’s not there to watch. Sometimes she wants to have sex with a girl without him watching. Dan describes “observer effect” for her. Calls from two straight guys being harassed by gay friends – should they object? A gay guy has had a 2 month friendship with a 20-year old virgin. How should he proceed without pressuring the guy? Dan says good on you for going slow – now have him do some reading (and masturbating). A married woman who used to be poly has a husband with brutal trust issues – Dan says she needs to use her words (starting with DTMFA). Why sex on a weight bench can be sexy – or scary. Then, Mallory Ortberg, Slate’s new advice columnist, joins Dan for some challenging “Second Opinion” calls.

Comic Bobby Slayton joins Glibert and Frank on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast. Bobby tells about his audition for the movie Ed Wood, where he worked with Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, and Director Tim Burton. Gilbert steals Bobby’s parts, but he also loses parts to large Black men, so go figure. Why Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the greatest American movie ever. Then Bobby talks about becoming Joey Bishop for the rat pack movie, and working with Don Cheadle – and explains why Don is an Academy Award winner and he’s still doing stupid podcasts. Will Bobby and Gilbert have dinner with Woody? And if you listen for Gilbert’s singing, you’ll have to wait until the very end (it’s worth it!).

On Roderick on the Line, the guys talk Sinatra, and Merlin explains the big musicians strike of the 1940’s, blowing John’s mind! How many fathoms in a knot, or knots in a league? Will John be getting a cavy? Or maybe a smashy-faced cat? The thing about cathedrals, and how it explains John’s RV problem. John’s EBay store – buy a story, it comes with a coat. Still time to come to the live taping the guys are doing on Friday, January 8 at SF Sketchfest, check it out!

On Bullseye, Jesse has a funny, touching talk with Neko Case. How Neko is not like the Pointer Sisters. A problem on her first albums – Canadians are polite. How to sing while drumming – it’s not easy! Being influenced by the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Finding humor in depression. And how nature makes living on a farm exciting! Then, Herb Alpert talks about his five decades as a musician and music producer. Hear about his early acting career – you’ll never guess who his acting teacher was! Writing “What a Wonderful World It Would Be” for Sam Cooke. And overcoming an existential crisis in his early 30s. Finally, Jesse recommends Danny Hoch’s Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop.

Stop Podcasting Yourself hosts very funny comedian Peter Carlone. Three ghosts came and told Dave how life would be without what? Peter does improve for kids in a High School gym – what’s up with kids today and vaping? Was it the smoking man, or the vaping man? What makes trampolines so dynamic? Peter has a bone to pick with the trailer for the new Independence Day sequel. And where are the Henchwomen, or a James Bond reboot with a woman as Bond?  Or an all-drone reboot? The show Make Me Laugh is no longer on, but in Japan you can still see Silent Library. Plus “Overheards” and more.

The David Steinberg Podcast has a quick teaser with excerpts from David’s upcoming interview with the hilarious actor/comedian Eugene Levy. Can’t wait for the full interview!

On The Smartest Man in the World, Greg covers a lot of ground in this New year’s show from San Francisco. There’s a Berkeley element in the crowd, will Greg say something wrong? Dick Tracy and other jokes from the 930s thru 50’s. The American Revolution – is Greg exonerating Benedict Arnold? Greg sings songs he supposes may come from the musical Hamilton. Omar Shariff – why did Peter O’Toole call him Fred? And your life – it’s not in your computer or your phone, but is it in books?

On Le Show, a University shares Harry’s view and bans starting sentences with the word “so.” Banning so was number one in their poll of phrases to ban — hear what other phrases people wanted banned. It was a slow news week, so a mini-Year in Rebuke with more stories from 2015. Our Freedom-Loving Friends, News of the Olympic Movement (is a new virus hitting Brazil just in time for the Olympics?), Quiffle Entrepreneur Boot Camp, News of the Atom (findings after an explosion at a nuke dump site in Nevada show rain seeped into corroded 1970’s barrels – but what did they know in the 1970s?), Obama sings “I’m sorry” (sorry to remind you, we really are the good guys) and lots more.

On WTF, with guest David Spade. David gets advice from Chris Rock. David hunts quail with his Dad – watch out for the Vietnam flashbacks. Props – how Dennis Miller talked David out of them. How he learned to stop just writing jokes and do his first “attitude bit” on SNL. His close friendship with the amazing Chris Farley, and his deep sadness on Chris’ death. A harrowing story about surviving an attack in his own home. Check out all this and more in David’s new book, Almost Interesting: The Memoir.

On Risk!, stories from the best of Risk! An engagement story of sickness and health. Then learning about things you miss that are right in front of you. And a family secret revealed, because the truth will out in “the real story.”

Two recent Doug Loves Movies: an early evening New Years Eve show from San Francisco with Greg Proops, Jacob Sirof @jacobsirof , Chad Daniels (@chaddaniels34), and Geoff Tate @geofftate96 . Is Mr. Roboto a real dude? It’s sweater day for Greg and Jacob. Chad brings Richy Rich stuff for the prize bag. Doug has not seen a movie with the Weenie King in it. The guys play How Much Did This Shit Make – The Rock edition, Whose Tagline Is It Anyway, Last Man Stanton – the movies of Richard Gere, and more. Then from L.A., with Andree Vermuelen, Patton Oswalt, Bert Kreischer and Geoff Tate (again!). The prize bag will get better soon. Bert bites his tongue (until he discloses his obsession, and admits to being the real-life Van Wilder – really!), first-timer Andree doesn’t like the map to Luke Skywalker (is it Luke or the Little Mermaid?), Patton wonders about wookies’ depth-perception, Geoff has dead Dad déjà vu, and the gang plays Last Man Stanton – the movies of JLo. Andree co-stars on Angie Tribeca with Rashida Jones, beginning January 7 on TBS.

On Story Collider, Anna Nicanarova really didn’t want to take her High School physics test. Hear the harrowing lengths she went to to get out of it.

Plus, NPR’s Planet Money has a pretty funny episode about trying to recreate a 16th century recipe for peacock. Things go south after the chef doesn’t show up. On The Gist, storyteller Matthew Dix with tips for telling better stories – how some of the most important storytelling lessons can be learned from the original Jurassic Park (really!). Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander visits the Nerdist podcast – hear why Jason did not become the next Ben Vereen, and how Garry Marshall made Pretty Woman into a movie totally different than the original script. And on Dining with Doug and Karen, the hosts eat food from chef Ngyen Tran, with guest comedian Jake Johannsen. Hear how Ngyuen makes the yummy sounding dessert “Brick Toast” (with nutella, peanut butter, crème fraiche, and more).


Changing Batteries to Change the World

On an upcoming episode of Before You Leap, I’ll be talking with Steve LeVine, author of The Powerhouse, about the race to create improved battery technologies, especially for electric cars. Batteries may be the most boring-sounding subject for a podcast, but with the advent of solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies that rely on unreliable weather patterns, power storage becomes critical, and the U.S. and other governments are investing billions in hopes of capturing the battery revolution that will change the post-fossil fuel world. I’ll also talk with Stanford professor and Solutions Project co-founder Mark Jacobson, who has published plans for how the U.S. can be powered by 100% renewable wind, water and solar energy, to get his take on the energy storage issues. Keep posted here or on the CEH website for when we post the episode later in January.

Now, podcast summaries.

On Radio Lab, an earlier episode on “Guts” explored the microbiome and the history of stomach science, with science author Mary Roach. You can hear a longer talk with Mary on her book Gulp! on the CEH podcast Before You Leap.

On Judge John Hodgman, Blair wants her husband John barred from wearing tank tops, but John says he’s a sweaty guy and a tank works best on a summer weekend. I’m surprised the Judge did not use an obscure cultural reference from Brando in Streetcar (he does later get in a James Caan as Sonny in The Godfather reference), but his was much more obscure. John bought a tank top with Blair while on their honeymoon – did he wait to lock it down before he showed her this side of himself? John just wants some reasonable tank top goals — he doesn’t want to be a tank top guy. Bay Area folks can check out the show live (along with Jordan Jesse Go with Hodgman as guest) at SF Sketchfest (and submit your dispute now to be heard live by the Judge!).

On Roderick on the Line, you gotta stop and pay the man. John has received 25 boxes from listeners, but you’ll have to listen to his other show to find out what he got. John’s sad RV saga (including smoke pouring out the back while in the mountains, the top diamond-level AAA towing service that will rescue a downed airplane (but their service still sucks), an attempted rescue by a good Samaritan, Travis the amazing deer-hunting tow truck driver, a garage mechanic named Nacho, John plays the xmas card, and how music may still save the RV, honestly) explains why there was no episode last week.

On Stop Podcasting Yourself, guest Ryan Williams is a sportsman and a brunchman! He’s from Kamloops, the Tournament Capital of Canada (unless you’re from Brampton, the other Tournament Capital). You remember slamball? It’s fun until someone gets stuck in the hoop. Baby Margot took her first steps! Dave’s real topic: tacos. Fish taco – have you not heard our slangs? The sitcom versions of It’s a Wonderful Life – have you seen the Breaking Bad version? On “Overheards,”old guys on the bus who want you to know that they’re really motorcycle guys, plus lots more. And google Ryan Williams if you like gay porn models.

The David Steinberg Podcast has a quick preview of David’s interviews with upcoming guests Mel Brooks, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy. It will be the funniest 4-minute podcast you’ll hear this week.

On WTF. Bill Burr is back to talk about his new Netflix cartoon (aka  “animated series”) F is for Family, with an amazing cast including Laura Dern, Sam Rockwell, Justin Long and many other great actors. How Bill almost didn’t pitch the show. Bill gets notes from Netflix executives – the greatest notes ever!  Abd Bill was right about banks, even if he doesn’t understand his own mortgage. Plus, Marc reviews a big year for WTF, including conversations with Terri Gross, Sir Ian McKellen, President Obama (!), and of course Lorne Michaels – and picks his surprising most memorable interview of the year!

On The Moth, Lynnee Breedlove has a moving personal and political story on the movement for transsexual rights, and Jama Jack tells about being raised by her Christian family as the daughter of a Muslim father.

It’s Doug Loves Movies – or is it Charlie Rose, or Julian Loves Music? With guests Bobby Lee, Julian McCullough and Megan Neuringer. Trigger warning: jokes about rape, wife beating, and edibles. Doug Loves Musicals, Whose Tagline Is It, and the movies of Michael Keaton.

On Studio360, if you missed it when it first ran in 2013, this week catch the “American Icon” episode on Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over a Cuckooo’s Nest, which tells the story of the origin of the novel, Kesey’s fight with the filmmakers over the movie version, and Sherman  Alexei on the myth of the silent Indian. A must for any Kesey fan.

On Snap Judgment, a forest story from Glynn. This forest had a heart – but this forest was not her friend. Then, a search for a little girl lost in the desert, led by a woman who survived an abusive marriage but lost her own kids to her spouse. Her tracking skills kept her alive and gave her hope that she would see her kids again. And Don and Micki Pettit on being an astronaut, and an astronaut’s spouse. Do you talk about this being the world’s most dangerous job? Don lost some good friends in the Columba shuttle disaster, then when Don’s in re-entry, Micki wonders if this might be another damn landing that doesn’t work.

On Hidden Brain, doctors tell a promising violin student she can no longer play – hear how her Mom’s Julliard strategy propels her into a position as a White House adviser on social policy.

On Only a Game, basketball player Jeremy Lin on the high suicide rate near his home town of Palo Alto, CA. Also, two other sports podcasts worth catching this week: Dave Zirin’s Edge of Sports has a year-end review including clips from conversations with musician John Legend, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Orioles owner John Angelos, Concussion author Jeanne Marie Laskas, and lots more. Then on Slate’s Hang Up and Listen, hear the recently unearthed recording of basketball founder James Naismith describing the first-ever game, followed by a discussion with Naismith biographer Michael Zogry and Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff.

Plus, Amy Schumer, in a pre-Train Wreck interview just posted on The Moment. Amy hilariously rips the Foxwoods casino’s treatment of comedians!