Episode 4: How could you love a rat?

How could you love a rat?

That’s a question I’ve gotten from people who discover that I have spent two days weeping over a pet rat dying. I get it; I never would have thought I would have it in me to love a small rodent that has – let’s face it – been an enemy of humanity for time immemorial.

But this episode isn’t just about my furry little friends! Sure, we start off with an interview with my now-22-year-old son Kepler Domurat-Sousa to ask him what it was like growing up with pet rats. He and I tell the amusing story of how he ended up sleeping in a cardboard box in the living room with Treacle the Slob and Truffle the Genius.

But from there, we expand outward with two more helpers.

My friend Dan Savage joins us to explore the problem of loving a human “rat.” What has Dan learned from his decades of work as the premier sex advice columnist in terms of the managing relationships with jerks, or managing friendships with besties who are dating jerks?

And we’re joined by another friend, sex researcher Paul Vasey, who talks with us about why his research on Japanese macaques showed up in the Weekly World News under the headline “Lesbian Monkey Shocker!”
Love is a many splendored thing on this episode.

Just a reminder that you can listen to the whole episode for free. But if you want to hear more of our conversations with the helpers, subscribe to our Tangent Tier for just $5/month and gain access to all the raw, long-form conversations. If you do so, you’ll see how hard it is for us to choose material to pull to the main pod!

Episode 3: Can a father be a mother?

As you’ll hear in this episode, Mike and I met about seven years ago when we were each out walking our sons. I was surprised to meet a man who had done what I did – subsume a hard-won professional career to primary caregiving for a child. But the more we talked, the more we realized the complex emotions we were feeling about our decisions to be very present parents weren’t about gender. At least not exactly. At least not all the time.

What happens when fathers do what Mike is doing – and what does it tell us about kinship, gender, and the meaning of life? We explore that and more as we talk with Paul Sullivan, a prolific journalist who has decided to start a new business centered on “lead dads,” and with Jon Adler, an academic psychologist who has an egalitarian parenting relationship with his husband.

You can listen to the whole episode for free. But if you want to hear more of our conversations with the helpers, subscribe to our Tangent Tier and gain access to the raw, long-form tapes. If you do so, you’ll see how hard it is for us to choose material to pull to the main pod!

Episode 2: What’s it like to play me?

Two of my books have been turned into audiobooks. Both of those books – Galileo’s Middle Finger and The Talk – are first-person works, which means that I’ve twice been played by professional actors. I conceived this episode as being a chance for me to find out what it’s like to play me, but it turned into something more interesting: an exploration of the relationship between what’s on the page and what we give to the world.

This episode starts off with a conversation with someone who hasn’t played me, namely my friend Peter Sagal, best known for hosting NPR’s news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!. Peter shares about what it’s like to have such a well-known voice, and also shares with us his view about why role-playing is so common in sex.

Then we head into the interviews with the two women who have played me: Jennifer Riker, best known for her two-year run as Dr. Helga Jace on Black Lightning; and Tavia Gilbert, a top performer in book narration. At the end of the episode, you’ll get to hear Mike and I talk about how revelatory it was for us to listen to Tavia perform two pages from one of my books.

You can listen to the whole episode for free. But if you want to hear more of our conversations with the helpers, subscribe to our Tangent Tier and gain access to the raw, long-form tapes. If you do so, you’ll see how hard it is for us to choose material to pull to the main pod!

Episode 1: What have I done?

If you’ve led a pretty raucous and complicated life, as I have – or even if you’ve led what looks like a pretty simple life – it can be hard to answer the question, “What have I done?” Are you the sum of your acts in your life, or exemplified by your life’s highs and lows? Does your life make narrative sense – and should it? Should we maybe think of our lives as episodes, or even as just amalgams of moments, rather than as cohesive tales? And what are we to do when others tell stories about us that don’t match our own?

This episode explores those questions and so much more. Mike and I really loved working on this episode together. In fact, we’ve been talking about it ever since. The conversations we had with these three helpers – Tod Chambers, Dan McAdams, and Jonathan Adler – set us to thinking a lot about how life narratives are imposed upon us, and whether it’s possible to free yourself from existential arcs.

You can listen to the whole episode for free. But if you want to hear more of our conversations with the helpers, subscribe to our Tangent Tier and gain access to the raw, long-form tapes. If you do so, you’ll see how hard it is for us to choose material to pull to the main pod!