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

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.

Bourbon evaporating into the ‘Angels Share’
The best of the best for Bourbon
The Makers Mark distillery, one of the stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Buffalo Trace Distillery

The original French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley
The 10 million dollar French Laundry renovation.
Mini pancakes from the French Laundry
El Bulli Restaurant in Catalonia, Spain
Lobster Gazpacho and a view from El Bulli
The Tour D’Argent, originally an Inn from the 15th century
A depiction of the Tour D’argent in the 1800’s
The Tour D’Argent restaurant today.

The French Laundry Website:


La Tour D’argent Website:


Episode 30: The Franklin Expedition and Sumo Wrestlers

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

The route of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror
Sir John Franklin, ‘the man who ate his boots.’
Lady Jane Franklin
The 20 000 euro reward for the search of Sir John Franklin and his ships

Check out the national geographic website for pictures of the discovered HMS Erebus!

Sumo Wrestler depiction from 1850
A rikishi wearing a traditional kesho-mawashi
Low ranking sumo wrestling trainees doing their daily workout at a stable in Tokyo.
Harumafuji, a star sumo wrestler from Malaysia
Episode 29: Rain Man’s Savant Syndrome and the Disney Cruise Disappearance

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

Art painted by a Savant by the name of Richard Wawro
Kim Peek, a Mega Savant, who Rain Man is based on.
Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in 1988’s Rain Man
Kim Peek and screenwriter Barry Morrow with the ‘most loved oscar.’

Rebecca Coriam in her Disney Crew uniform
The Disney Wonder ship in 2011.
The last message Rebecca sent to her family.
Bex speaking on the phone, the morning that she disappeared.
A flip flop that Rebecca’s parents were given even though it had someone else’s name on it.
Bex and Tracie Medley dancing.
Episode 28: America’s Weirdest Bank Robber and the Chocolate Industry

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.

The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob
Peggy Jo Tallas AKA Cowboy Bob
Peggy Jo about to come out of her RV in 2005, her last stand.
Peggy Jo Tallas before her untimely death in May of 2005.

Cocoa pods that look like skinny pumpkins.
Cocoa beans in a cocoa pod.
A woman in Trinidad crushing cocoa beans with her feet.
A big slab of cocoa butter.
A child working in the chocolate industry in Africa.
Episode 27: Detroit’s Purple Gang and the Northern Lights

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. 

The Purple Gang, rotten, purple like the colour of bad meat.
The apartment where the Collingwood Manor Massacre occurred.
The Purple Gang at the trial where they were accused and convicted of first-degree murder.

An 1865 painting by Frederic Edwin Church, possibly inspired by the Great Auroral Exhibition
A diagram of how Aurora is formed from solar particles and our atoms crashing together
Steve, an atmospheric phenomenon
Green Aurora caused by oxygen, Estonia 2015
Purple Aurora caused by Nitrogen in Duluth, Minnesota
Rare red Aurora in Yellowknife, Canada
Image credit: Chul Kwon
Episode 26: Waco Siege (Part 2) and the Mary Celeste Disappearance

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 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.

The Mount Carmel Center on the first day of the siege, 4 ATF agents and 5 Branch Davidians were killed that day.
David Koresh’s interview with CNN on February 28, 1993
David Koresh’s full negotiated radio sermon from 1993
A combat engineering vehicle breaking through the center wall
Live CNN coverage of the Waco siege and the Mount Carmel Center fires.
The last remnants of the center being burned to the ground.

An 1861 painting of the Amazon which would later be known as the Mary Celeste
A map indicating the discovery position of the empty Mary Celeste
Gibraltar in the 19th Century
Episode 25: Invasive Species and the Waco Siege (Part 1)

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.

The Softbrains podcast is available on all major podcast apps including iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.

An aptly named Zebra Mussel
Zebra Mussels sticking on to another mussel.
A dandelion field in Russia
The rat, the most successful mammal aside from humans

The Mount Carmel Center, the Branch Davidian’s home
Victor Houteff, the founder of the Branch Davidians
The flag of Branch Davidians
David Koresh