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Tag: famous people

Words You Can’t Say On TV Or Radio, with JoChristie

Hollywood in the 1920s was haunted by a number of scandals, like the murder of director William Desmond Taylor and alleged fatal sexual assault by movie star “Fatty” Arbuckle, which brought widespread condemnation from religious, civic, and political organizations.  Political pressure was increasing, with legislators in 37 states introducing almost one hundred movie censorship bills in 1921. Faced with the prospect of having to comply with hundreds of local decency laws in order to show their movies, the studios chose self-regulation by way of a single church official.  

The movie studios enlisted Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood’s image.  Hays, Postmaster General under Warren G. Harding and former head of the Republican National Committee, was paid a lavish sum equivalent to $1.4 million in today’s money inflation.  He served for 25 years as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), where he “defended the industry from attacks, recited soothing nostrums, and negotiated treaties to cease hostilities.”  The move mimicked the decision Major League Baseball had made in hiring judge Kenesaw Landis as League Commissioner the previous year to quell questions about the integrity of baseball in the wake of the 1919 World Series gambling scandal.  That was the one you might have seen dramatized in the 1988 movie Eight Men Out.

Short-lived, Long-remembered, with Based On A True Story podcast

Special guest: Dan LeFebvre from Based On A True Story podcast.

There are some musicians that leave an enduring legacy through long and storied careers, like the Rolling Stones, who formed in 1962 and swear 2018 for be their final year touring, for real this time.  There are actors who are iconic because they have been on our TV’s or the silver screen for decades, like Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, and our beloved Betty White. But by the same token, there are musicians, actors, and shows that are like a stone dropped in a pond — their appearance was brief, but their ripples continue to this day.

For years and years, if a music journalist wanted to compliment a guitar player, they would do it by likening them to Jimi Hendrix.  That practice continues to this day, even though Hendrix only recorded from 1967 until his death in 1970. Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix (later changed by his father to James Marshall) on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington.  He had a difficult childhood, sometimes living in the care of relatives or acquaintances. He and his brothers were estranged from their mother, who had had Jimi when she was seventeen and died at age thirty three. 

Mixed Bags of History

Genghis Kahn’s empire killed 2/3 of Northern China, but people under his rule knew unrivaled gender equality and religious freedom. Mother Teresa gave aid to the poor, but also encouraged their suffering. Spiky cacti sometimes contain life-sustaining water, and even the most beautiful roses have thorns. We’re all some mix of good and bad.

Content advisory: today’s episode includes racial language in its historical context.

For 50+ years, the only thing people have known singer/actor Al Jolson for is for appearing in blackface in the first motion picture with embedded sound, The Jazz Singer. But he also promoted the work of playwright Garland Anderson, leading to the first all-black Broadway show, as well as pushing to hire a black dance group at a time when black performers were outright banned from Broadway. Beloved country singer Johnny Cash was an impassioned spokesperson for prison reform, going so far as to appear before a Senate subcommittee, to call for things like as separating first-timers from hardened criminals and focus on rehabilitation. But, he also started a forest fire that burned over 500 acres and displaced or killed dozens of endangered condors.

This Is Only A Test


Tests are all around us, ubiquitous to every day.   You probably took a test the minute you were born.  Today we look at a number of test, from movie theaters to hospitals, that are named for the people who created them.

It’s known as the Bechdel test, and it goes like so: For a given work of fiction, usually a movie, to pass the test, the piece must have at least two female characters in it, with names, who talk to each other about something other than a man.  That must be pretty common, you say to yourself. You’d be surprised how many movies don’t meet the criteria. Think back to the original Star Wars or Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those movies have so few female characters that you can count them on one hands and those characters rarely share a scene, let alone a conversation.

Life After Death, with Dumb & Busted podcast

Death doesn’t mean everything stop for you. There are lots of ways we can live on after shuffling off the mortal coil. From body parts taken from famous bodies, to cells that won’t stop growing, to a taxidermied person on display in a museum, we look at bodies and body parts that don’t let death slow them down. Thanks to our special guests, Dumb & Busted podcast.

Turn of Phrases

For more than a century, the taxidermy diorama “Arab Courier Attacked by Lions” – a man on camelback, fending off Barbary lions with a long dagger – has stood in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Throughout all those years, the piece has kept a disturbing secret from hundreds of thousands of visitor eye. Created by French taxidermist Edouard Verreaux in 1867 and acquired by industrialist Andrew Carnegie for the museum in 1899, “Arab Courier Attacked by Lions” was long known to contain real human teeth. As recently as last summer, however, staffers believed it contained no other human remains. During a restoration that began last year, a CT scan revealed that—like its camel and lions—the display’s rider was constructed with “natural” materials. In this case, an actual human skull. My name’s Moxie and this is your brain on facts.

Swiss Army Wife, with Bunny Trails Podcast

I’m pretty good at this wife business, but I can’t say that I would take over my husband’s public office after his death, re-edit his film to launch a genre-defining franchise, or kill an enemy general after he was over-run. However, there are a lot of women in history who would, and did, all those things and more.

From French pirates to Chilean warrior to American filmmakers, we look at women who earn the title “super wife,” with help from Bunny Trails Podcast.

It’s not uncommon, across the world and throughout history, for a woman who has been widowed to take over her husband’s business. This may be a ranch or a store, even a mine, but what if your late husband earned his bread in the US Congress? Believe it or not, there is a protocol known as “widow’s succession” or “widow’s mandate.” “Widow’s succession used to be THE way that women got into Congress, with very few exceptions,” explains Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. It wasn’t a blue-moon occurrence. 47 women have taken over their husband’s seat, 8 in the Senate and 39 in the House. Neither was this an old-timey system that’s been long forgotten. The practice actually peaked in the mid-twentieth century. “There was a period when you could look at all the women serving in Congress, and a majority had initially gotten in that way.” Widow’s Succession has declined, but two women are serving in Congress presently because of it – Lois Capps and Doris Matsui, both Democrats from California.

Ink and Pain: Tattoos, with Hobbit from GUI Podcasts

“The body is a temple and it’s our job to decorate it.” From tatau in Polynesia to Sailor Jerry to the oppressed class that gave rise to the Yakuza, we touch on some highlights from the history of tattoos.

Huge thanks to my guest presenter Mike “Hobbit” Bickett from Geeks Under the Influence Podcast network. Check out the episode of Smack My Pitch Up he let me do with him.

For those who don’t know me personally, I’m coming to you today from Richmond, VA, the #4 most tattooed city in America, depending on which list you’re looking at, a city with 15 tattoo shops per 100,000 people. Our unnofficial motto is “The body is a temple and it’s our job to decorate it,” right after “We don’t like the way things are, but don’t you dare suggest changing it.”

Tattooing is one of the earliest visual art forms and has served as a means of self-expression for thousands of years. The process was probably discovered when ash or dirt became embedded in an open wound, leaving an indelible mark when healed. The word tattoo is derived from the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means to mark. The earliest known reference to the word was made by Joseph Banks, a naturalist aboard Cpt. Cook’s the Endeavour, “I shall now mention the way they mark themselves indelibly; each of them is so marked by their humour or disposition”. By the 1700s, the word tattoo was in use in Europe. The term and knowledge of the practice was probably re-introduced to Europe by sailors returning from Polynesia. I say “re-introduced,” because early Britons used tattoos in ceremonies. The Danes, Norse, and Saxons tattooed themselves with clan sigils, an early form of family crest. The practice took a major hit when Pope Hadrian banned tattooing in the eighth century, but it was the Norman Invasion of 1066, with its ink-antagonist Normans that caused it to disappear from Western Europe until the 16th century.

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