Weekly Listens, #5

I listen to a lot of podcasts – a lot! – so I started a series rounding up the most interesting episodes I’ve heard recently. And I’m really enjoying these podcast roundups! I go through so many that oftentimes I worry that I don’t really internalize them and remember their contents, but jotting down short notes here helps with that a lot. This week, I learned about the amazing artistry and customization that went into the music of Seinfeld, one way to get to Mars that everyone’s overlooking, and super creepy Victorian Christmas cards.

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‘So I pitched to Jerry, “How about this? How about we treat your human voice as the melody of the Seinfeld theme? Every time you do a different monologue will be a variation on the theme. My job, Jerry, will be to accompany you in a way that works well with your human voice, but does not interfere with the audio of you telling jokes.”

I’ve watched every season of Seinfeld but never realized how custom all the music was! Every TV show up until then had “proper” theme music, but Seinfeld had something entirely new as Jonathan Wolff composed instrumentals that were made up of synth sounds and odd noises and were tailored to Jerry’s standup bits. Every single episode had custom-made music. Mind blown.

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The Cost of Free Doughnuts

If you talk to veterans who fought in WWII, you’ll find that almost all of them unequivocally hate the Red Cross.


Because no one might like paying for things, but everyone hates it when you start charging for something that was previously free. During the war, Red Cross had set up comfort stations for soldiers overseas that served free coffee and doughnuts. But due to pressure from the U.S. Secretary of War, they started charging for these doughnuts – and those soldiers still hold the grudge today, even though it’s been 80 years! Moral of the story: charging for things can really change relationships, and companies should keep this in mind as they set prices for their products.

One Way Ticket to Mars

This one got me thinking like nothing else. Why haven’t humans made it to Mars yet? Getting them there isn’t the issue – we’ve long had the technology and knowledge of how to build and supply a rocket ship to travel there. But it’s the ‘getting them back’ part that’s hard – you have to pack the rocket with all the supplies for the return trip, everything the astronauts need to stay on Mars for a while, and all the propellent required for the initial landing in the first place. Except according to National Geographic, that’d require a whopping 33 tons of propellent, which is way too much to send along with the crew or even send ahead…which means you’d have to manufacture it on Mars. And of course that then means you have to haul all the materials needed to create that propellent, and so on.

BUT one professor thinks there’s an easier solution that everyone’s skipping over: what if we sent someone to Mars…on a one way trip? It sounds ghastly at first, but he argues that if we’re serious about getting to Mars in the next like 300 years, this is possibly the only way – and a lot cheaper. Send an astronaut to Mars for the rest of his life, have him slowly but surely colonize and learn how to live on the red planet. And there’d be plenty of volunteers – after all, you’d be remembered in history forever.

It’s both a chilling and somehow beautiful thought. It’s certainly a lot to think about.

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The Victorian Christmas

Also a new podcast to me and I’m loving it so far! The host invites both a historian and a comedian each week, and the 45-minute podcast is super hilarious and a treat to listen to. Who knew I wanted to know so much about Victorian Christmases?! Apparently while Dickens didn’t invent Christmas, he definitely helped popularize it, and a lot of the Christmas traditions we have today (sending cards, decorating trees, etc) all lead back to this era. I learned that their Christmas cards were absolutely insane.

Also? This is just about the cutest podcast cover art I’ve ever seen!!

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The Importance of Being Earnest

I recently discovered this book podcast and am really liking it! This episode was a fun return to an Oscar Wilde classic – I haven’t read it in years so it kind of like discovering the book all over again as I listened (and laughed) along (that sounds so cheesy but it’s true).

Do you guys listen to any of these? Are there any podcasts you recommend? I’m always looking for more!

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