Chattering Class

Living fearlessly in and out of the dojo

When author Susan Schorn decided to learn karate as a way to deal with being an anxious person, she chronicled her journey from novice to double-black-belt in her McSweeney’s Internet Tendency column, “Bitchslap.” Now in her book, Smile at Strangers and Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly, she explains how lessons learned in the dojo apply to life in the day-to-day world. She gives Brendan a (non-contact) primer.

The 411 on SXSW

Every March, crowds in the hundreds of thousands flock to Austin, Texas for the arts festival South-by-Southwest. Co-founder Louis Black chats with Rico about why it caught fire, the tears that fuel the fest, and a memorable close-up with Johnny Cash.

Autism expert Temple Grandin on thinking across the spectrum

Dr. Temple Grandin is a college professor, scientist, inventor, activist, best-selling author - and a person with autism. In her newest book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, Grandin incorporates her own experiences with cutting-edge science and innovative theory, and advocates for embracing and educating children anywhere on the autism spectrum.

Author and ‘ordinary acrobat’ Duncan Wall dives into circus history

When Duncan Wall fell in love with the circus, he fell hard. (Many times.) After undergoing rigorous training - and theoretical study - at at France’s École Nationale des Arts du Cirque, he went on to direct a clown-theatre company and then to teach at Canada’s national circus school in Montreal. His new book “The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus Past and Present” relays his experiences alongside a history of the art form - from red-and-yellow stripes to contemporary acts like Cirque Du Soleil. He gives Brendan a crash course, with the greatest of ease.

‘A Room With A View’ into the life of Noel Coward

The late performer, playwright and songwriter Noel Coward gets a much-deserved close-up in the exhibit "Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward". Curator Brad Rosenstein walked Brendan through some of the highlights of the self-made artiste's career.

Humorist David Misch literally wrote the book on funny

David Misch has written for everything from "Saturday Night Live" to "Mork & Mindy." He now teaches classes on the history of comedy... and he's distilled his wisdom -- and that of other comic luminaries -- into the primer "Funny The Book: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Comedy." He gives Brendan a crash course in Sumerian humor and the wild(e) birth of standup.

Rodney Ascher’s ‘Room 237’

Filmmaker Rodney Ascher turned his lens on 'Shining' obsessives... Rodney chats with Rico about art and analysis, monomania, and Kubrick's (theoretical) moonlighting.

Tim Wendel, ‘Summer of 68’

Tim Wendel has written several acclaimed books on baseball, and his latest is Summer of '68: The Season that Changed Baseball - and America - Forever. It follows the Detroit Tigers' tumultuous '68 campaign -- complete with players being drafted, riots in the streets, a city's massive expectations (and ultimately) a World Series win. With this year's baseball season just underway, Tim and Rico chat about how - in many ways - we're all still feeling the heat of that summer.