Season 2: Episode 3: The Mystery of William Shakespeare and the Crimes of Central Park

In 2007, a ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’ was released by scholars and actors alike and it stated that there was ‘room for reasonable doubt about the identity of William Shakespeare.’ This week Clarke takes us behind the curtain of the mysteries and misinformation that surrounded the life of Shakespeare. The speculation that he was not the author of his plays, his weird, illegible signature, and what the heck he actually even looked like.

Justin brings us into more mysterious incidents, including all of the crimes surrounding, arguably, one of the most famous parks in the world. He shares the gruesome details of John Lennon’s murder, the police standoff at the Central Park washrooms and, of course, the Central Park Five. There is a lot more to the eye in this weeks episode of the Softbrains in Episode 3: The Mystery of William Shakespeare and the Crimes of Central Park!

Season 2: Episode 2: Building Central Park and the Unicorn Obsession

What was Central Park before it was the groomed, touristy lawns that we know today? Well, it was a shanty town and some rocks. Justin tells us how Central Park became one of the most famous parks in the world and the ups and downs throughout its history. Including the effect of FDR and the Great Depression, the hippies and the kinda secret Central Park Conservancy.

Have you ever wanted to be a unicorn? The sparkly rainbow kind, the furry rhino kind or the business kind? Clarke details the weird origins and stories about unicorns throughout history, as well as their mistaken participation in the bible and the hoaxes that followed. Unicorns seem to have touched a little piece of every society, they’re not just frappuccinos or magical companions, they’re full of history and mystery.

Find out all about it on Season 2: Episode 2 of @thesoftbrains! 

Season 2: Episode 1: The Success of Mcdonalds and Cod Wars

The Softbrains are back for Season 2 with a delicious mix of fast food and fresh fish. Clarke details the history and marketing of Mcdonalds that has made it the golden arched beast that we know today. Not only how they became so successful but how they maintained that success. She also touches on McDonalds’ slogans, their on and off relationship with Disney and their run in with fraud.

After talking about the Filet o’ Fish, Justin takes us to fish filets, specifically cod filets. Starting in the early 1900’s there has been several ‘cod wars’ between Iceland and the United Kingdom, fighting over the desirable waters that sit between the two countries. Justin gets into boat ramming, net cutting, NATO threats and all of the details that make the Cod Wars one of the strangest wars in recent human history.

Back with a banger, check it all out in Season 2: Episode 1: The Success of Mcdonalds and Cod Wars

Episode 31: Kentucky Bourbon and the World’s Most Famous Restaurants

Are you ready to get drunk and hungry? In this weeks episode of the Softbrains, Justin takes us down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. He tells us exactly what this amber-coloured alcohol is made out of, its history and the weird rules and guidelines around its distillation. Bourbon barrels can’t be re-used, so what do they do with them? BBQ sauce, wine, decoration in your grandmas basement. This delicious drink is just the start of this episodes journey into deliciousness.

Clarke takes us on a journey through the world’s most famous restaurants. From the Napa Valley, to Catalonia to Paris, the French Laundry, El Bulli and the Tour D’argent are without a doubt the most famous restaurants in the world. Whether they started off as an Eagle Saloon or whether they specialize in foamed food, these restaurants are famous for a reason. Was it their ingredients, their innovation or their cultural significance that led to their fame?

Get ready to salivate in Episode 31: Kentucky Bourbon and the World’s Most Famous Restaurants. 

Episode 30: The Franklin Expedition and Sumo Wrestlers

In 1858, two ships headed for the search of the Northwest Passage disappeared. The Franklin Expedition is one of Canada’s most enduring mysteries, it’s the story of a determined wife, possible cannibalism, and a sprinkle of the paranormal. The HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror were discovered in 2014 and 2016, respectively, but the ships are still rife with mystery and suspicion. Clarke tells us all about how they got there, what happened and how the Canadian government is involved. 

On the other side of the planet, Justin takes us into the world of Sumo and the Rikishi. The popularity of sumo came and went, depending on local rulers and how they felt about sumo. But it was consistently a staple of Japanese culture and tradition at time to a fault. The conditions that sumo wrestlers live in and the associations persistence to hold to tradition has stirred up some controversy in recent years.

Find out all about it this weeks episode of @thesoftbrains Episode 30: The Franklin Expedition and Sumo Wrestlers

Episode 29: Rain Man’s Savant Syndrome and the Disney Cruise Ship Disappearance

Savant Syndrome, a condition where an individual excels in a specific skill like art, music or math. Only about 75 people in the world today are deemed as ‘mega-savants,’ but the syndrome is not without its drawbacks. Justin tells us all about how Savant Syndrome affects individuals like Kim Peek, a mega savant. The 1988 blockbuster hit, Rain Man was based on Kim Peek and his incredible ability to memorize everything that he read. 

Then, Clarke shifts gears to the not-so-magical disappearance of Rebecca Coriam, a Disney employee who vanished from a Disney cruise ship in 2011. Her story is riddled with mystery, cover ups and lawsuits. Disney maintains to this day that Rebecca was washed overboard by a wave but Clarke breaks down why that can’t possibly be true and its clear that something more malicious happened to the young Disney worker.

Don’t believe everything the Mouse tells you in Episode 29: Rain Man’s Savant Syndrome and the Disney Cruise Disappearance. 

BATTLE OF THE SEXES – The Softbrains Board Game Special

The Softbrains decided to do something a little bit different this week. We’ve been busy with a move to a different city and didn’t have time to produce a full episode this time around SO instead, feel free to enjoy listening to us play the dated game of BATTLE OF THE SEXES. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week but in the mean time, listen to Justin kick Clarke’s ass in this sexist and prejudice board game. 

Episode 28: America’s Weirdest Bank Robber and the Chocolate Industry

Cowboy Bob was a notorious bank robber in the early 90’s in Texas. He hit multiple banks in the Irving area and stole thousands of dollars. He always wore a 10 gallon hat, a beard and sunglasses and no one knew that under all that, it was actually a middle-aged woman named Peggy Jo Tallas. Clarke tells us all about Peggy Jo’s story and the events that led to Cowboy Bob’s final stand in 2005. 

Originally thought to be cultivated in Central America, Cocoa trees were actually domesticated first in South America according to a recent research group from British Columbia. It was long after that the delicious chocolate-giving trees were moved to Africa. Justin dives into chocolate’s history, production and the current issues facing the industry in episode 28: America’s Weirdest Bank Robber and the Chocolate Industry. 

Episode 27: Detroit’s Purple Gang and the Northern Lights

Detroit, 1920’s, prohibition is in full swing and a juvenile street gang is started up by the Burnstein brothers. Abe, Joe, Raymond and Izzy call it ‘the Purple Gang.’ Justin details the purple gangs involvement in several turf wars, bootlegging and the laundry industry union. They controlled all of Detroit’s vices and they were number one until the Collingwood Manor Massacre, then, things changed for the Burnsteins. 

North of Detroit, Clarke delves into Aurora or the Northern Lights. The colourful dancing lights in the sky that have led to legends, stories and myths that have lasted centuries. Some say it’s a gateway to heaven others say it’s spirits playing football with a Walrus’s head. But actually, it’s solar particles crashing into the atoms in our atmosphere.

Find out how you can run your telegraph system with auroral current instead of batteries in episode 27: Detroit’s Purple Gang and the Northern Lights. 

Episode 26: Waco Siege (Part 2) and the Mary Celeste Disappearance

Federal agents did everything they could to drive the Branch Davidians out of the Mount Carmel Centre in the 1993 Waco Siege. Recordings of rabbits being slaughtered, flash grenades, and finally, tear gas to drive out the David Koresh and his followers. In part two of the Waco Siege, Clarke details the events that resulted in the fire on April 19th, 1993 that would end with a total death count of 76 people.

The Waco Siege is surrounded in mystery and unconfirmed conspiracies, as is the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. In December of 1872, the ship (Mary Celeste) was discovered 1000 miles off the coast of Portugal. Not one soul on board, navigation systems missing but the cargo of denatured alcohol untouched. Justin expands on the mystery and @thesoftbrains explore the story in this weeks episode, episode 26: Waco Siege (Part 2) and the Mary Celeste Disappearance.

Episode 25: Invasive Species and the Waco Siege (Part 1)

‘Unwelcomed pests, invasive three
Save yourselves is natures plea’
Justin shares with us his poetic side in episode 25 of @thesoftbrains, he tells us all about the damage of three invasive species. The zebra mussels, dandelions and the Norwegian rat. They’ve spread all over the world, damaging and infiltrating human environments, and human intervention hasn’t exactly been the most helpful.

Speaking of human intervention, Clarke tells us all about the ways that intervention can go wrong. She gives us a brief history on the Branch Davidians and their previous leader David Koresh who was preparing for the apocalypse by stockpiling weapons. Eventually leading to the ATF’s intervention and the death of 76 people during the Waco Siege in 1993.

Episode 24: The Tiny Water Bear and Sesame Street Controversies

The water bear, the moss piglet, the tardigrade has had many names in the past. And despite it’s small microscopic stature it’s one of the most resilient creatures on Earth. It has survived Earth’s mass extinctions, extreme temperatures and even, space. Justin tells us all about these tiny little ‘slow steppers’ and how they can survive virtually anything. A big part of it is their ability to curl up into a dehydrated ball and hibernate for up to 120 years! 

Unlike the microscopic tardigrade, Sesame Street is huge! One of the most popular childrens show of all time. But throughout its 49 year history, it hasn’t been without controversy. This week, Clarke explains how Sesame Street has struggled with a possibly racist Muppet, a terrorist Muppet and an HIV positive Muppet. She also breaks down the difference between the Jim Henson characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy and the classic Sesame Street characters like Elmo and Big Bird.

W is for weird in this weeks episode of @thesoftbrains. Episode 24: The Tiny Water Bear and Sesame street Controversies

Episode 23: Jackie Chan and Russia’s Toughest Prison

The life of Jackie Chan or Chan Kong-Sang is one full of Kung Fu, organized crime and softcore porn. This week, Clarke tells us all about Jackie Chan and his escapades over the years including working with Bruce Lee, releasing 20 musical albums and owning a Segway dealership. One of the most recognizable stars in the world, Jackie Chan has got to have one of the most interesting histories of Hollywood’s greatest.

Black Dolphin isn’t just a black dolphin, it’s also one of Russia’s toughest prison’s. With an average of 5 murders per inmate, Black Dolphin prison is full of cannibals, serial killers and child molesters. That’s right, Justin didn’t hold back this episode. He tells us all about Russia’s most prolific serial killer and the prison that he’s in. Find out why they call him the ‘werewolf’ killer in e

Episode 22: The Tragedy of Armero and the Cobra Effect

Natural disasters happen, it is an inevitability of living on Earth. What we choose to do when presented with warning signs of impending doom can make the difference between life and death. In 1985, there was a small town named Armero in Columbia. It sat in the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz, also known as La Mesa de Herveo or Kumanday: an enormous albeit quiet stratovolcano. The Earth rumbled and smoke came forth, telltale signs of what was to come. Why did thousands of people die?

In a completely different subject matter, Clarke looks into British rule of colonial India. Delhi had a problem with the number of venomous cobra’s , and the British Government decided to do something about it. Somehow, their plan only caused the snake population to explode, and also gave us The Cobra Effect, a phenomena seen the world over where an attempted solution only makes the problem worse. What happened? Find out this week in @thesoftbrains Episode 22: The Tragedy of Armero and The Cobra Effect.

Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk

Everyone remembers that famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movie is finishing up, the bad guys just got their faces melted off, and the government worker is wheeling the lost ark into the depths of a huge warehouse. Or is it a huge warehouse? It’s actually a painting on glass called a ‘matte painting.’ This week, Clarke dives into how matte paintings have been used in Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter. She explains the genius of the artist Christopher Evans and how he helped George Lucas bring his universe to life. 

Justin continues with the mysterious connection between the Mongolian army, milk, horses, and the plague.  Surprisingly, milk was a great advantage for Ghenghis Khan and his army, influencing future generations and their ability to process milk. We all know the plague was caused by rats, but what role did Ghenghis Khan and milk have in the spread of the black death? Find out in this weeks episode of @thesoftbrains Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk.

Episode 20: Board Game History (Part 2) and Sixgill Sharks

Episode 20 of The Softbrains has arrived! This week, we get right into the swing of things with part 2 of Justin’s investigation into Board Game history. The largest game manufacturer in the world didn’t get there by just making games; they became more and more successful by buying out their direct competitors. We’re talking about the big guys, Milton Bradley and Hasbro included.

We also explore one of The Softbrains’ favourite topics – ocean life, in the form of Sixgill Sharks. In a world covered in oceans, we truly know very little about it’s marine life and the mysteries of Sixgill sharks. Clarke explains what shark scientists are doing to discover more information about the Bluntnose Sixgill, the Bigeyed Sixgill and the brand NEW Atlantic Sixgill shark. This week’s episode is packed with laughs and brain food, so tune in to The Softbrains Episode 20 – Board Game History (Part 2) and Sixgill Sharks!

Episode 19: Pyramid Tomb Robbing and Board Game History (Part 1)

Ancient Egyptian tombs have been around for thousands of years and for thousands of years, they’ve sat empty and desecrated due to extreme grave robbing. Some pharaohs made it out relatively unscathed, like King Tut… but why? Why was King Tuts tomb so famous and virtually untouched? Ancient Egypt is also the birthplace of one of the oldest board games in the world, dating back thousands of years. Dice are also super old and used to be made of BONE. This episode has a ton of history and LOTS of ancient Egypt, if that’s your thing, tune in to The Softbrains Episode 19 – Pyramid Tomb Robbing and Board Games (Part 1)! 

Episode 18. Greyhound Racing and the Havana Syndrome

Greyhounds have been around for thousands of years. Humans have been racing them since 1876. Florida recently banned all dog racing in the recent US midterm elections. Thousands of dogs are set to be homeless or worse. After the greyhounds, the Softbrains made their way over to Cuba. Where there have been multiple incidents of mysterious ‘sonic attacks’ throughout the last two years coined the Thing or the Havana Syndrome. Both CIA officers and state department officials have been effected by this debilitating and targeted attack. We unpack the politics and some of the mystery behind it in Episode 18: Greyhound Racing and the Havana Syndrome.

Episode 17: The Costume Institute and Nails, Phalanges and Tippi Hedren

This week we talked about the MET Gala, how to conserve synthetic polymers according to the costume institute, nail health, Tippi Hedren’s visit to a Vietnamese refugee camp and so much more! Spoiler alert, there’s a dress made out of bird skulls and a woman with 28 foot long nails. 

Episode 16: The Softbrains Halloween Spooktacular Special

Ladies and Germs, Boys and Ghouls, welcome to The Softbrains Halloween Spooktacular Special! We have a fantastic treat for our listeners this week; everything is a little extra spooky, with some creepy topics, some disturbing stories, and thrilling tunes. 

We talk about torture devices, varying from the pear of anguish, the head crusher, and thumbscrews… Maybe a serial killer used them before they chopped up their victims and fed them to the public! Listeners beware, you’re in for a scare!

Episode 15: How to be a Superhuman and Adidas’ Weird History

Is Lebron James a superhuman? Where in the world do people live the longest? Was Adidas invented by a Nazi? All these questions and a whole lot of stupidity on this week’s episode of The Softbrains: Episode 15 – How to be a Superhuman and Adidas’ Weird History!

To download and listen to all of the Softbrains episodes