Tor’s Cabinet of Curiosities

An explanation of how, statistically speaking, High School Musical supporting actor Corbin Bleu is the third-most-important person in history. The story of an unethical 1970s experiment aimed at proving that humans are inherently violent, and how it ended up suggesting the opposite, much to the chagrin of the scientist who designed it. The hunt for the mysterious, racially ambiguous founder of the Nation of Islam. The surprisingly riveting hunt for a lost gay porno about Jesus. An investigation into the true motives behind the African country of Zambia’s bizarre attempt to send a woman to Mars. The real background of Tommy Wiseau. All these things and more are contained within Tor’s Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s a podcast about how day-to-day life is far stranger than we think. It’s about unusual people, bizarre historical events, and mysteries that aren’t crime-related. Are you curious? Welcome.

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Episodes

Monday May 22, 2023

What comes to mind when someone mentions the Beach Boys? Hot rods, surfing, California girls? Perhaps, if you’re a bit of a music nerd, you’ll know that they made a more serious, innovative album too, 1966’s Pet Sounds, often considered one of the greatest albums of all time. But a lesser-known chapter of the Beach Boys’ story is just how weird they got in the late 1970s, when they produced one of the strangest and most inaccessible albums ever released by a well-known, mainstream artist, made a thousand times stranger by the fact that that artist was the Beach Boys.

Sunday Apr 30, 2023

Title pretty much says it all. Even for Tor's Cabinet of Curiosities, this is a weird one.

Sunday Apr 09, 2023

"Weird-history" blogs and Youtube channels love telling the story of Timothy Dexter, a colonial-era Massachusetts entrepreneur who supposedly sold coal to Newcastle and mittens to the Caribbean, and made money each time. According to the stories, he became very rich on pure luck, despite being a blithering idiot the whole time. But is that true? Did Timothy Dexter have a method to his madness? Is it possible that every time he did something outrageous, he knew exactly what he was doing - up to and including consigning himself to history as a blithering idiot?

Sunday Mar 05, 2023

Ever had a witch steal your penis? No? Good for you. Thousands of people in times and places ranging from medieval Germany, to present-day Nigeria, to 1980s China, aren't as lucky. Penis-stealing witches are a scourge nearly as universal as death and taxes. How about this: are you hypersensitive to Wi-Fi? Have you ever gotten a strange headache after eating at a Chinese restaurant, or do you know anyone who has been literally killed by their nightmares? Do you feel helpless in the face of climate change? Or do you really just want to hear more about those penis-stealing witches? All of these things are connected in the most kaleidoscopic, soul-searching Tor's Cabinet episode yet.

Sunday Mar 05, 2023

Working in the Netherlands after college, American drifter Louis Sarno heard a song on the radio that divided his life into Before and After. Not sure what had come over him, he immediately uprooted his life, traveling to the Central African Republic and attempting to integrate into a remote village of Ba-Benjellé pygmy tribespeople. Against all odds, he was accepted as one of them.

The Woman Who Would Be Pope

Sunday Feb 19, 2023

Sunday Feb 19, 2023

In the Middle Ages, it was widely believed that once, a woman had become Pope. Pope Joan, as she was known, supposedly infiltrated the ranks of the Catholic Church disguised as a man, rising all the way to the papacy, until she was found out in an accident and removed from office. While the story of Pope Joan was debunked in the Renaissance, most historians now believe that there really has been a woman Pope - and her story is way more interesting than the legend.

The Mystery of Rongorongo

Sunday Feb 12, 2023

Sunday Feb 12, 2023

Written language has only been independently invented a few times over the course of human history. Archeologists believe that it was invented in Mesopotamia first, then China, then maybe Egypt, then Central America - and then, some believe, on Easter Island, of all places. Artifacts from the remote, barren island are often covered in a regular, detailed series of glyphs, called “rongorongo” by the natives. Is it writing? If so, how did it become abandoned and forgotten, and is there the possibility of ever deciphering it? If not, what is it - and what does it say about Easter Island’s murky, little-known past?

Sunday Feb 05, 2023

High in the Pyrenees mountains of southern Europe, in between France and Spain, sits the tiny, isolated country of Andorra. Since the Middle Ages, Andorra has been led by one of the most unique political systems in the world, with a Spanish Catholic bishop and the president of France as joint heads of state. The only time their rule over Andorra has been seriously threatened was when a Russian conman came to town, and with the support of the populace, declared himself king.

Is There a Biggest Number?

Friday Feb 03, 2023

Friday Feb 03, 2023

No. Now that we’ve got that question out of the way, what’s the closest thing there is to a biggest number? What’s the biggest number we can conceive of? What’s the biggest number we’ve ever calculated? Surprisingly, there are concrete answers. Meet some candidates for the biggest number ever defined: Graham's number, Rayo's number, the Busy Beaver numbers, salad numbers, and of course, Onion-Infused Multidimensional BEEEF.

Friday Feb 03, 2023

The first mainstream Hollywood movie to tackle the Holocaust starred, and was directed by, Jerry Lewis, a lowbrow 60s slapstick comedian. Called The Day The Clown Cried and intended for a 1974 release, the very idea of its existence was met with disgust from critics, and it was left unreleased despite being almost entirely complete, a very rare phenomenon for a major movie. Only a handful of people have been allowed to see it since, and there is disagreement on what exactly The Day The Clown Cried’s tone is. Some say, in fact, that it treats its subject matter with respect, and it could have been an Oscar contender and an unlikely break into serious cinema for Lewis had it been released. Others disagree, with some labeling it one of the most tasteless films ever made. How much does the world really know about The Day The Clown Cried?

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