Ella Fitzgerald – From Street Child To First Lady Of Jazz

What a voice. What an incredible musical talent. She came out of total poverty and a life as a Manhattan street child. Ella Ftizgerald – the greatest jazz singer ever?

Hear how she got her greatest hit that time she completely forgot the lyrics to Mack The Knife in Berlin.

BTWs include Chick Webb, racism, Marilyn Monroe and Alex’s new favorite expression for something really quiet.

In the moment of meta Alex talks about letting go of enthusiasms.

Lise Nørgaard – Writer, feminist and UTTER BADASS

Lise Nørgaard is a Danish journalist and author who discovered her superpower (writing) and has used it tirelessly to promote women’s rights and social justice.

She also created Matador, the best Danish TV show EVER, and (maybe most importantly) had a pastry named after her.

BTWs include implanted memories and swing dancing.

In the moment of meta Alex Katie shares a story of how she used enthusiasm to defuse an online feud.

Hamilton: Hip-hop history of the American revolution

How can you not love a hip-hop musical about the American revolution where all the founding fathers are played by people of color???

Katie is not just a fan of Hamilton – she is self-proclaimed Hamiltrash. In this episode she talks about what makes the music so great (obviously!) but also about the huge cultural impact that the show has had.

BTWs include Tom Waits, Encanto and the KGB’s hilariously failed attempt to blackmail the president of Indonesia.

In the moment of meta Alex issues a challenge to Katie and all listeners.

Tom Waits: The Weirdest Human In Showbiz

“Is Tom Waits for real?”

That is the question that pops up when you google him and in this episode we try to figure that out. But first Alex gushes over the weirdest man in showbiz and tries hard to get Katie to appreciate his music, his acting, his life and his voice. That last one is an especially hard sell.

Also: THIS IS OUR 25TH EPISODE!!! Not bad for a couple of hosts whose strengths do not include things like perseverance, planning and general sticktoitiveness.

BTWs include artists who play a persona and why Shrek 2 is the best sequel of all times

In the moment of meta Katie introduces a new enthusiandment: Explore adjacent enthusiasm or in other words if you like a thing, check out other things that are like that first thing.

The Jewel Box Revue – Making Drag Mainstream – In 1939!

This incredible stage show had 25 men performing as women and one woman MC dressed as a man. It started in 1939 and made drag mainstream with high production values and incredibly talented performers.

But most of all: Meet Stormé DeLarverie, MC of the revue and the butch lesbian whose scuffle with police was the spark that ignited the Stonewall riots. The word badass doesn’t even begin to cover her.

BTWs include:

  • Why the “Mr.” in front of the performers’ names was SO important
  • The Stonewall Rebellion
  • How men wearing women’s clothes will surely lead to the downfall of western civilization
  • The dogs’ secret plan to take over the world

In the Moment Of Meta, Alex once again stans Swedish statistician Hans Rosling’s work on compiling data that shows that the world is getting better in many ways and uses Rosling’s work to quiz Katie.

Links

Billy Strayhorn: The Unsung Hero Of Jazz

Everyone who knows jazz knows Duke Ellington. But did you know that many of the Duke’s most famous songs were actually written by a gay black musical prodigy called Billy Strayhorn?

In this episode Katie celebrates the life and music of Strayhorn who received little recognition (or even money) for his work but who still lead a “lush life.”

BTWs include the Baader-Meinhoff effect.

In the moment of meta we share a tip on how you can use enthusiasm to connect with new people.

Links

All the songs:

BONUS songs: 

Piet Hein: Poet or pirate? Why not both!

Piet Hein was a Danish philosopher, mathematician, designer, poet and all-round smart cookie who did amazing work in both science and arts. Be warned: This episode has POETRY!!!

BTWs include Piet Hein (the awesome pirate) and why Danish is the worst language.

In the moment of meta, Katie talks about closing feedback loops and proposes a new enthusiandment: Thou shalt always tell your friends what you like about them.

Links

The Art Of Drag: Blowing up gender in STYLE

Drag is not just men dressing as women – it’s a playful and enthusiastic art form that messes with our preconceived notions of gender and identity.

Katie – who is about to do drag herself for the first time – shares the history of drag, the most iconic performances and which seasons of RuPaul’s drag race to avoid.

BTWs include best drag names, backronyms and why there is nothing more fake than reality TV.

The moment of meta

In the moment of meta Alex proposes a new enthusiandment: It’s OK to be enthusiastic about something that is flawed.

Links

Hallelujah: The Prettiest (And Most Abused) Song In The World

This amazing song took 7 years to write and was then roundly ignored. Only after a cover version and the untimely death of an artist did the song finally become popular.

Since then, Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece has been covered at least 300 times and was used in The West Wing, Scrubs, Watchmen, Shrek and much much more. Everybody treats it like a sad song, but it’s not – Cohen’s intention was much more joyful.

BTWs include death of the author, communication in relationships and ice cream chords.

In the moment of meta, Katie talks about a challenge that enthusiasts everywhere must face: When someone says that you’re “too much”.

Links

Cynthia and Hatsune: Fictional women who became real

Cynthia Gaba was a celebrity in 1930s high society in New York. Hatsune Miku is a singer with a global fan base who has even gone to space. But here’s the twist: Cynthia was a mannequin and Hatsune is 100% digital!

How did two women, who are clearly not “real” in the traditional sense, become so successful and what does that say about the nature of celebrity and even of reality? What is real?

BTWs include William Gibson’s 1996 novel Idoru which predicted Hatsune Miku, men who fall in love with fictional women, Thor Ragnarok and ragging on Game of Thrones. As usual.

The moment of meta

In the moment of meta we propose the next enthusiandment: You don’t have to participate in something to be enthusiastic about it.

Links