Tangentially Speaking

Organic, revealing conversation with fascinating, freaky folks.
Ever wanted to hang with a dominatrix, comedian, famous health guru, or Italian prince? Here's your chance. Tangentially Speaking is dedicated to the idea that good conversation is organic, revelatory, and free to go down unexpected paths.

125 - Brian Bao (Emergency Medicine)

Captain Dan, Shaku, and my buddy Sean in the lake at Pokhara, Nepal.

Captain Dan, Shaku, and my buddy Sean in the lake at Pokhara, Nepal.

Brian's the kind of guy who gets a PhD while taking a rest from getting an MD—and makes it all look easy. He's currently a resident in emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. If I ever get loaded into an ambulance, I hope Brian's there to greet me at the end of that ride. Download this episode.

Music: Jet Airline (Steve Miller Band), Dream Time In Lake Jackson (The KLF Chill Out), The Ballad Of Cher Shimjer (Paul Peña), Smoke Alarm (Carsie Blanton).

123 - Elle Stanger (Exotic dancer)

Elle Stanger is a stripper/sex worker/exotic dancer/intimacy therapist/political activist/tattoo fancier. She's busy. And smart, funny, and sexy as all get-out. Download.

An When I Die (The Dirtydirty Dollars).

                The image that sparked this conversation.

                The image that sparked this conversation.

122 - Nikki Glaser (Comic)

Show Notes:

Unreleased Background (The Beach Boys)

Alibi (John Thomas)

Smoke Alarm (Carsie Blanton)

Dr. John Sarno (back pain doctor).

Ulcer story.

The Magic Wand.

James Prescott's article on the origins of violence.

Sarah Silverman's TED controversy.

Joseph Campbell.

Nikki Glaser is a New York based stand-up comic who headlines at clubs all over North America, and has a project in development at Comedy Central. She's found a way to laugh at her deepest fears. Plus, she wipes her ass with facewipes and her dentist gives her brain orgasms. Download this episode.

121 - Murphy Pelot (He's "about 13 and a half.")

Old soul...

Old soul...

Some links from the conversation (thanks, dkbose):

* 180° South Documentary

* Origins Documentary : 

* Babies documentary : 

* A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

* The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future by Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway

* A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

* Walden by Henry David Thoreau : 

Murphy's my bud. He's "about 13 and a half" and has more going on in his head than most people twice his age. If our species has a future worth living, it'll be because people like Murphy pulled us back from the brink. Download this episode.


"Storm," by Brian Aspell.

"Guaranteed," by Eddie Vedder. Here's a video of Eddie Vedder performing the song.

"Society," by Jerry Hannan, performed by Eddie Vedder. Some amazing videos of the song being performed here, here, and here. Purchase the songs or the whole soundtrack to "Into the Wild" on iTunes.

120 - Magnus Sullivan (Erotic Film Director)

Magnus and Cassie sporting their amazing Tangentially Speaking shirts!

Magnus and Cassie sporting their amazing Tangentially Speaking shirts!

Magnus is the creator of Marriage 2.0, a revolutionary feature film that treats explicit sexuality as an intrinsic part of the characters' lives, without resorting to worn out pornification. We discuss the challenges of trying to make erotic art for smart people in a market geared toward mindlessness.

Here's a recent interview with Magnus in Salon.com.

Download this episode.

Song: Thinking About Tomorrow (by Tom Parkes).

On set with the legendary Nina Hartley (see the archives for my conversation with Nina).

On set with the legendary Nina Hartley (see the archives for my conversation with Nina).

With one of the stars of Marriage 2.0, India Summer.

With one of the stars of Marriage 2.0, India Summer.

118 - Frans de Waal (Primatologist)

With Frans and Cacilda in Barcelona.

With Frans and Cacilda in Barcelona.

My favorite photo of Frans.

My favorite photo of Frans.

From his TED profile:

Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal is a biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982), compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books – translated into fifteen languages – have made him one of the world’s most visible primatologists. His latest books are Our Inner Ape (2005, Riverhead) and The Age of Empathy (2009, Harmony).

De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor in the Psychology Department of Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center, in Atlanta. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (US), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today, and in 2011 by Discover as among 47 (all time) Great Minds of Science.

117 - Chris Jaymes (second visit)

Goofy-faced motherfucker. That's me in the mirror.

Goofy-faced motherfucker. That's me in the mirror.

Chris is a native of Hollywood. He's a filmmaker, writer, and musician. His latest project is about the healing potential of dolphins. Download. Here's a video of Bootstraps playing Oh California.

115 - Tao Ruspoli (Second Visit)

Tao's back yard in Venice, CA.

Tao's back yard in Venice, CA.

Tao is one of the most interesting people I know. His father hung with Fellini, Brigit Bardot, and Dali. Tao's family tree goes back 1200 years. He got guitar advice from Keith Richards, hangs with Oliver Stone, and he was married to film/TV star Olivia Wilde. He makes films about his passions—which range from philosophy to flamenco to the nature of love and marriage. Download.

Help Tao get Monogamish into the world.

Monogamish Trailer.

My previous podcast conversation with Tao.

Tao's short profile of a great flamenco guitarist: Manuel Molina.

Flamenco: A Personal Journey.

The article I mention about "falling in love" functioning to get us out of, not into relationships.

114 - Dr. Tanya Luhrmann (Psychological Anthropologist)

Dr. Tanya Luhrmann is a psychological anthropologist best known for her studies of modern-day witches, charismatic Christians, and psychiatrists. She is Watkins University Professor in the Anthropology Department at Stanford University, writes a column for the New York Times, and is the author of several books, most recently, Of Two Minds: The Growing Disorder in American Psychiatry and When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with GodDownload this episode.

Vid of El Principe Gitano is here.

113 - Richard Satnick (Part II)

My pal Richard has a talent for noticing where the trends of our society are headed, which makes him a very astute businessman and investor—as well as a fascinating and thoughtful observer of larger civilizational trends. Download.

112 - Mark Wiener

Go on. Google "total assfucker" and see if you don't see an article about this week's guest. If that's not enough to impress you, Mark is a guy who's spent his life in the trenches of American politics and hasn't lost his sense of humor or optimism. Don't ask me how that's even possible, but there you go. As you'll hear, I really enjoyed shooting the shit with Mark and hope to do it again soon. Download.

111 - Steve Herman (Child sex abuse assessment)

Steve Herman consults with legal professionals to help them think more clearly about an issue that all too often blinds even the most level-headed among us with blind rage: allegations of sexual abuse of children. Precisely because these crimes are so offensive to people in our society, we tend to jump to conclusions, often hurting many innocent people in the process—including children. This isn't an easy thing to talk about, but Steve does it with intelligence, balance, and a deep sense of humanity. Download.

109 - Dan Piraro (Bizarro)

Dan is a cigar-smoking vegan, animal rights activist, atheist, NRA hating, ex-husband, father, stand-up comedian, painter, former host of FOX TV’s “Utopia,” philosophizing cartoonist who makes his living writing and drawing a new cartoon every day, 365 days a year.

If you have ever seen Dan Piraro’s critically acclaimed comic Bizarro (and you have: it is published daily in over 360 papers), you know that he doesn’t see the world like the rest of us do. His single panel gems are a unique concoction of surrealistic imagery, social commentary, and witty plays on words. Indeed, if Salvador Dali, Garry Trudeau and Oscar Wilde had an illegitimate child, that child would be Dan Piraro. Download. (Bio from Dan's site.)


108 - Peter Gray


Peter Gray is an American psychologist who currently occupies the position of research professor of psychology at Boston College. He is the author of a widely used introductory psychology textbook, Psychology, now in its seventh edition. The book broke new ground when the first edition was published (in 1991) as the first general introductory psychology textbook that brought a Darwinian perspective to the entire field. He is also author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013), and he writes a popular blog for Psychology Today magazine entitled "Freedom to Learn."

Gray is a well-known critic of our standard educational system who is frequently invited to speak to groups of parents, educators, and researchers about children’s needs for free play, the psychological damage inflicted on children through our present methods of schooling, and the ways in which children are designed, by natural selection, to control their own education. Along with a group of other concerned citizens, he has created a website, AlternativesToSchool.com, aimed at helping families find alternative, more natural, routes to education. (From the Wikipedia profile of Peter.) Download.

107 - Phil Zuckerman

PHIL ZUCKERMAN is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is an author and blogs for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. In 2011 Zuckerman founded an interdisciplinary Department of Secular Studies at Pitzer College, the first in the nation.Get Phil's book on Amazon. Download this episode.