Host Susie Meister interviews neuroscientist and author of The Psychopath Inside: A Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain, Dr. James Fallon, who discovered accidentally that he has the brain genetics of a psychopath. Fallon describes what it was like to discover his own genetic predisposition of psychopathy, and why he believes he turned out to be a successful, non-violent, family man instead of a monster. Fallon also discusses how psychopaths operate in and see the world, and why these genes have been useful historically. Meister and Fallon talk about serial killers and the brain makeup that contributes to these behaviors.
I interview Rachel Phelps Hockenbarger a couple of years ago, and found the experience so fascinating I was eager to do it again. I know many people don’t think we should give the Westboro folks any more attention because of their provocative signs and pickets of military funerals, but I see them as an interesting microcosm within American religion that can shed light on the way Americans believe and behave with regard to theology.
Shirley is outspoken about her anti-gay ideology and picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers and other prominent figures. The church’s signs, which say things like, “God Hates Fags,” make headlines for their decidedly unChristian rhetoric and tone. Phelps-Roper opens up about the church, their community, and dwindling congregation. She describes how the church has changed since their founder and patriarch, Fred Phelps Sr. died last year. She also discusses why she believes we are in End Times, and the perils of hell for those who don’t repent.
I am a huge fan of history and comedy, so Christopher Miller’s book, American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny, was right up my alley. In it, Miller uses an alphabetical or enyclopedic approach to breaking down what has been funny in American history, and places within the context of that time. He also explores the curious notion of how comedy tend to be very culture and context specific, and does not tend to hold up well over time. It’s a fascinating (and hilarious) look at American history through the lens of comedy. Chrisopher Miller is a professor at Bennington College in Vermont and is also the author of Sudden Noises from Inanimate Objects, which won the Seattle Times Best Book of the Year award.
As a The Brady Bunch fanatic, I was thrilled to interview former child actor Robbie Rist, who played Cousin Oliver on that show. He is now a famous voice actor known for parts in Doc McStuffins and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also a musician and had a cameo in Sharknado. Above all, Robbie is hilarious, smart, and talented. You’ll love him!
Hope all my Pittsburgh friends (and fans!) will join me for a live taping of my podcast, The Meister Piece, featuring guest comedian, Davon Magwood. We will also have some surprise guests as well. The Arcade Comedy Theatre is BYOB and tickets are only $10. So come down to the theatre this Friday, January 2, at 10pm! Buy tickets here.
As the mama of a toddler, I kept hearing about Pamela Druckerman’s book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I was skeptical because I have an aversion to the fetishizing of the French, especially among women, but I was intrigued all the same. The book was wonderful in part because it provides insight into how Americans have come to parent, and why it often inadvertently holds them hostage. It’s also wonderful because it offers hope for those parents who feel imprisoned by the job and experience a loss of identity in the midst of child-rearing.
Since that book became an international best-seller, author Pamela Druckerman followed up with French Children Don’t Throw Food and Bebe Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting. A combo book of Bringing Up Bebe and Bebe Day By Day is available now in paperback.
Here we talk about her books, what she’s learned about parenting, and the differences between American and French parenting. Check out her website here. Enjoy!
I recently saw the phenomenal, Academy Award winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom about the lives and careers of back-up singers. You must see this film. The voices, stories, and people in this movie are absolutely compelling and captivating. In addition to documenting the life of a back-up singer and what that career can be like, the film shows the way session groups sang back-up on almost every song from the 60s and 70s (think: the Gospel back-up sound on “Sweet Home Alabama” or the ladies who sang “Da-Doo-Run-Run”).
One of the stars of the film was the incredible Darlene Love who is most famous for the vocals on He’s a Rebel (which I sillily referred to as “She’s a Rebel” in my intro here! Oy), Be My Baby, The Monster Mash, and dozens more. Her voice is stunning and her effervescent personality is contagious. The film is a masterpiece and ends with her being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce Springsteen watching on proudly.
This year she is releasing her first full length album this year, there is a biopic starring Toni Braxton as Love to be aired on Oprah’s OWN network, and she will be making her 28th and final Christmas appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show this year. Visit her website for more on tour dates and news.
I was truly honored to speak with this inspirational and talented woman. Below is a clip of her SINGING her acceptance speech at the Oscars and enjoy my interview below that.
I love the Letters From a Nut book series. These books compile bizarre and hilarious letters that Bruce Baum and his writing partner at the time, Barry Marder, sent to businesses (and their responses). They were authored under the pen name Ted L. Nancy. Jerry Seinfeld wrote the forewards to these books, and now there is some controversy about who the true author(s) are. Bruce claims he is one of the two authors while Marder (with Seinfeld by his side) has taken sole credit. He is working on a documentary about this controversy and a pilot for a show called Clear My Name dealing with people who feel they’ve been denied credit for their work or were unfairly besmirched. Check out the video below to see him tell his side of the story and listen to my podcast interview beneath that for more. Also, visit Bruce’s website for tour dates and more.
I’m easily annoyed. I hate loud noises, babies crying, women chattering, the sound of football on television–I don’t like any of it. The worst part of it, though, is that I seem like I LOVE all of it. This is my cross to bear. I seem super perky, but in reality I’m a grouch. In sum, I’m the worst kind of person. I’m Elaine Benes who seems like Kelly Ripa.
I’ve been diagnosed as a “Highly Sensitive Person,” which sounds like a joke, but apparently is a thing where you have greater sensitivity to noises, textures, and other sensory experiences. Being a Highly Sensitive Person really just means I have high highs and low lows, and translates into me being overjoyed or devastated.
Even though I’m irritated by the slightest volume increase (which should make me unable to function in an MTV Challenge house), I am an extrovert, and desire human contact. On one hand, I make every effort to avoid eye contact with people when I’m out in public, but I simultaneously crave attention and interaction to a degree that is probably unhealthy.
This is why social media is a dream come true. I can post an observation, picture, or joke and have people acknowledge (and often validate) me, but I don’t actually have to talk to them. The problem, of course, is that we all still have to go to the supermarket, mall, and doctor’s office, and that’s when I would really appreciate you letting me scroll through my Facebook newsfeed in silence. It’s not you, it’s me. You’re probably delightful. I’m the worst, and I can’t listen to your tales about the weather, local sports, or pumpkin spice lattes.
And, listen, I get that when you’ve been on reality TV that you should be prepared to discuss it at all times, but let me just clear up the three questions people seem to have, for the record, once and for all: 1) Yes, it was fun, 2) Yes, I keep in touch with SOME of “those people,” and 3) No, I don’t think I’m going to do “that” again.
Also, the fact that I have a kid and you have a kid and we happen to be standing in the same checkout line does not mean we need to be friends. In fact, I think it means that neither of us are in the mood to have a chat because we both have toddler at our heels trying to rip into a Snickers bar that has not yet been paid for.
So know this, I’m both annoying and annoyed, so, whatever you do, don’t bug me.
If you grew up in Pittsburgh and have ears, you’ve heard the voice and impressions of legendary radio personality and comedian, Jimmy Krenn. He ruled morning radio for 24 years, and caused a stir when was abruptly fired from the DVE Morning Show. In this Meister Piece exclusive, Jimmy opens up about that controversy and tells us what happened from his point of view. He also shares how he got his start in the business and how he began doing impersonations at a young age. You can hear his hilarious podcast at jimkrenn.com and he’s back on the airwaves every week on KDKA Fridays between 8-9am with hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway. He is one of the nicest guys in the city, and I’m proud to call him my friend. I hope you enjoy the interview–he’s so much more than just a pretty voice.