In his interview with Ian McKellen on the WTF Podcast, Marc Maron said one the smartest things I’ve heard about modern niche marketing:

I don’t have a demographic. I have a disposition.

You should listen to the rest of the interview too.

The Science of Weezer

On the 537th episode of the WTF with Marc Maron Podcast, Marc Maron has an interesting conversation with Rivers Cuomo* of Weezer about his method for songwriting, particularly in the gap between Pinkerton (1996) and The Green Album (2001).

What I find so captivating is Cuomo’s application of a scientific mindset to “solving” his creative process  in the hopes of working more efficiently and effectively. He fails, but does not conclude that his art cannot be understood by science. His problem was a classic scientific problem of too many variables, too small of a sample size (ie, n=1), and too little time. Cuomo also defies Maron’s efforts to portray his analytical quest as potentially maddening. It simply wasn’t productive enough.

I’m going to recommend the whole interview, but the segment I have described starts at about the 34:50 mark.

*Promoting Weezer’s new album Everything Will Be Alright in the End.

Troubleshooting Replication Studies (in Music)

We’ve already reposted Marie-Claire’s post on Tegan & Sara’s rendition of Walking with a Ghost, which, depending on your pedantic devotion to the definition of irony, may or may not have been ironic. Marie-Claire’s post used the comparison between Tegan & Sara’s original and The White Stripes cover to talk about replication studies in science.

On Wednesday, The Nerdist Podcast released an interview with Tegan & Sara, in which they talk about their careers, motivations, inspirations, pet giraffes, and asteroid-induced apocalypses. This reminded me of a key principle of understanding replication studies in science: you need to understand not only what the people were doing, but also the people. Continue reading “Troubleshooting Replication Studies (in Music)”

Creative Constraint

We, the attendees* of the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop, talked a lot about how constraints can really foster creativity at the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop. In that case, it focused on the traditional style of a news article, something I have been encouraged to try at least once in my life. So, this discussion has been at the forefront of my mind – or, whichever wrinkle of my brain contains recent memories**.

Marc Maron’s interview with Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons, reminded me of this relationship between creativity and constraint. The Simpsons has been incredibly successful and creative (at least for several seasons, depending on who you ask). Maron and Simon talked about how animation could allow The Simpsons creators to do whatever they wanted. Continue reading “Creative Constraint”

Voluntary Responsibility and Impostor Syndrome

Look, I know you should be subscribed to the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. You know you should be subscribed to the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. Why aren’t you? Cause you are lazy. That’s why.

But I’m not here to lecture you about your personal failings. I’m here to recommend that you listen to the most recent episode (Episode 283). Why? Two reasons.

First, the show introduction presents a moving story about Marc deciding to take responsibility to see a stray cat through the end of its life. It’s a story of compassion, not “passing the buck”, and putting consideration for another being before one’s own comfort and ease. This is especially recommended for the folks that leave messes in the laboratory common areas around here.

Second, Marc and his guest, young comedian Bo Burnham, have a long talk about impostor syndrome. I knew impostor syndrome was an epidemic among young scientists and writers, but apparently it is also running rampant among comedians. As a seasoned veteran, Marc not only manages to remember the insecurity of youth1 (probably because he never stopped being insecure), but also provides Bo with the insight that there is no “jury” that gets to decide if you are an impostor.

That was a great relief to me, until I realized that science has a whole series of “juries” – thesis committees, journal editors, grant review panels, etc., etc. . .

So, maybe just listen to the introduction.