Jakob Lazzaro, Justin Curto and Sophia Lo Can't Let Go of Baby Shark and letting a friend down, Oscar drama and poetry readings, and the potential heat death of the universe and missed connections: sushi edition. Stories featured in this episode hail from Slate’s Decoder Ring, The Oscars and Space.com. Transcript below.

[Music: Little Lily Swing]

Jakob Lazzaro: Hello, and welcome back to Can't Let Go, the NBN podcast where we discuss the news stories and the personal stories from the past week or several weeks or whatever that we can just not get out of our heads. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro, and today, as always, I’ve got two guests with me. We’ve got returning, eternal guest Justin Curto — Justin, say hi.

Justin Curto: [Laughs] Hi.

Jakob: And we’ve got new guest Sophia Lo.

Sophia Lo: Hi, I’m Sophia and I’m exhausted.

Jakob: Justin wants to go first for his news story. So Justin, what’s your news story?

Justin: Actually, I’ve changed my mind. I want a WWE-style intro.

Jakob: Oh, my god.

Justin: No, I’m kidding.


Jakob: Annnnnd on the riiiight side of the boooooth, Justin M. Curto with his news story.


Jakob: So here we go. Justin, what’s your news story?

Justin: Why’d I get my middle initial in my intro?

Jakob: Because it’s a WWE-style intro!

Sophia: What’s your middle name?

Justin: Michael.

Jakob: It’s Maurice.

Justin: No, it’s not. All right! I have a news story, and my news story is, broadly speaking, the Oscars. So, something to know about me is that I live and die by film awards season. I’m not super into film history or good classic films, but I love finding out, like, which films have momentum? Who has buzz right now? And all the weird shit that happens along the way. But this awards season was especially weird and shitty because of two films – Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody. They had shockingly great showings at the Oscars. This year I was like, should I try to see all eight Best Picture nominees? Because I was pretty close. But then I decided that it wasn’t worth seeing Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody. Basically, the idea is like very much a subplot/afterthought of the film, that Freddie Mercury was a queer man when, in reality, it was a part of his life. The movie just focused on He’s a Rockstar! and all that. Also, the director is a bad person, and that’s it’s own other thing.

Sophia: What’s the controversy over the director? I do not keep up with the Oscars at all, the only thing I’ve seen was Bao, which was adorable.


Justin: So, the director, Bryan Singer...

Jakob: Bryan Singer, yeah.

Justin: His thing is that he has been well-known in Hollywood circles for a little while now for sexually abusing teenage boys.

Sophia: Pretty bad, okay.

Justin: Along with all that, he was kicked off the set of Bohemian Rhapsody before the filming ended just because he was apparently difficult to work with, and they turned one of the film’s producers, I think, into the new director. So if you’ve seen that clip going around Twitter with, like, the shitty editing where it cuts...

Jakob: It also won best editing, which is the clip I was gonna talk about!

Justin: Yeah! So, the reason why it won best editing is because people thought that the film editor was the person who saved the film because he weaved together these two directors’, like, directing. Because they didn’t reshoot the film when they got the new guy. But the joke is that no one mentioned Bryan Singer in like, any awards speech, so it’s like the film without a director.

Jakob: Sophia, what’s your news story?


Sophia: Oh! My news story is about the universe – real deep, I know. Just kidding. It’s about physics, which I don’t understand very well. There’s this thing called Hubble’s constant, I think? It’s Hubble something, and it’s basically just the rate the universe is expanding. People have been researching, and recent experiments have found this discrepancy that the universe is expanding a lot faster than Hubble’s constant. Nine percent faster, to be exact. They don’t know what this means, but it could just be very bad. They don’t understand why, either – they think it’s something to do with dark matter, which we don’t really understand.

Justin: So, I have a question.

Jakob: Yes.

Sophia: I probably can’t answer.


Justin: Why is it bad if the universe is expanding? Like, what are the harms to me of the universe’s expansion?

Sophia: To you? Probably nothing, but I think the article mentioned something about, like, atoms ripping apart.

Justin: Shit. That sounds painful.

Jakob: Yeah, there’s like three end-of-the-universe scenarios. There’s the big rip, which is all the atoms rip apart basically, there’s the big crunch, which is like the universe is going to expand and then crunch back together in another big bang.

Justin: Why? Why would it crunch back together?

Jakob: Because physics, I don’t know. And then there’s the big freeze, which is the one scientists thought was going to happen. Basically, the universe expands forever and then everything dies because all the heat and energy disappears over quadrillions of years.

Sophia: But now it’s expanding faster, so...

Jakob: Then expected. So it could be the big rip, in which all your atoms would rip apart eventually.

Justin: Does it all happen at once?

Sophia: No, I don’t think so.

Jakob: It’s like a gradual process.

Justin: So like maybe one of my atoms has already ripped!

Jakob: Oh no, it’s like a gradual process across the universe. Kind of a long time,

Sophia: Climate change is going to get us first.

Jakob: To reign things back down to Earth for my news story, are you guys aware of the international internet and cultural phenomena over the past year or so called “Baby Shark?”

Sophia: Yes.

Justin: I used to work at a summer camp.

Sophia: Yeah, so did I.


Jakob: For the record, I never worked at a summer camp. So I did not know about “Baby Shark.” Anyway, there’s a podcast from Slate called Decoder Ring hosted by Willa Paskin. Basic premise is pop culture related mysteries, and this month’s episode was about the history of “Baby Shark.” And let me tell you, it was wild.

Sophia: It’s been around for a long time. It made it on the New York Times’s newsletter several times, and I don’t know why.

Justin: There’s like something that happened that like, sparked its resurgence.

Sophia: It’s on the little kids video.

Jakob: Yeah. So I think the reason it’s popular now is there’s this South Korean company called PinkFong, which is a children’s media company. And they made a version for their YouTube page, which is the one that’s super popular and has been viewed a bajillion times or whatever. But like you guys were saying, the song itself is actually super old. So right now, there’s like several international copyright disputes going on. Different versions of “Baby Shark” have charted multiple times in different languages over multiple periods of time. Willa Paskin, who’s the host of the podcast, she did this research and she thinks, they’re not sure, she thinks the song is as probably as old as the 1970s and probably goes back to the famous summer blockbuster movie Jaws. This podcast was absolutely amazing, and I recommend everyone goes and listens to this episode because it’s crazy.


Sophia: Do they play different versions of “Baby Shark?”

Jakob: Yes. They play different versions of “Baby Shark,” they play “Jaws Works for the C.I.A.” I mean not the whole song, just clips of it.

Justin: Because they don’t want to embriol themselves in the multiple international copyright disputes.

Jakob: That’s true!

[Music: “Baby Shark” by PinkFong]

Justin: And now it’s time for our personal stories!

Jakob: Yes.


Sophia: Oh, my personal story involves you, Jakob.

Jakob: Wow, it does? Wow, I feel called out, what’s your personal story?

Sophia: Well, Todoroki was doing a buy one, get one free on their all you can eat sushi celebration yesterday. And I skipped lunch, I didn’t really eat breakfast because, you know.

Jakob: Now you’re making me feel bad.


Sophia: It gets worse later, don’t worry.

Jakob: Oh, okay.

Sophia: Because Jakob and I were gonna go. And then I get to the restaurant, I put my name down, I’m all ready to eat like 30 pieces of sushi. Like, not even kidding, I was planning on ordering at least six rolls. And then Jakob calls me and he tells me he can’t make it because he lost his flash drive?

Jakob: Yes. To defend myself, I have a flash drive plugged into my computer at all times, it’s plugged in right now, as extra storage space. Like, I keep my iTunes library on there, my Spotify downloads, whatever. And it’s important.

Justin: Very important to eating sushi.

Jakob: No. What is important is that I lost it. I was in the Medill student lounge, and I knocked my laptop or something when I was putting it into my bag and it fell out and I didn’t notice. Evidently, it fell into the crack of the couch in the Medill student lounge? And I didn’t notice until I got back to my apartment and was like, throwing everything out of my backpack in a rush because I was running late for the sushi, as usual. It was like 4:44 when I’m doing this, and I notice there’s no flash drive. So I’m like, oh. It must have fallen out in my bag. So I tear open my bag, and it’s not there. I’m like, shit. I gotta retrace my like, steps for the afternoon. So then I called you and was like hey, I can’t come because I’ve gotta go find this like fucking flash drive because it’s important.

Sophia: So I let Jakob go obviously, but then I’m scrambling to find people because my other friends went during lunch, my other friends were busy, and yeah. I mean I wasn’t that upset at the time because I think I was just getting really hangry so I wasn’t thinking, because you know, didn’t really eat lunch. So I went and got poke, which was fine and all, and then after I was full I just started getting mad because I spent eleven dollars on poke and I would have eaten so much more sushi. And you know, I was still fine until that evening. I think the poke made me sick because I was vomiting last night. Yeah, not fun. Not a fun night. So basically, I was upset because I really wanted sushi. I wanted so much sushi. I did not get the sushi. I got poke that made me sick. That’s my personal story.

Jakob: Wow.


Justin: I tried sushi for the first time like last week at Todoroki.

Sophia: I’m sorry, what? At Todoroki?

Justin: I’m a vegetarian!

Sophia: Oh, okay.

Justin: So I’ve never had any reason, to like eat sushi I feel like? And people say Justin, you really enjoy cooking. You’re really into food. I feel like you’d like sushi. But it doesn’t fascinate me in the same way, because I feel like so much of sushi is about high-quality ingredients and things like that, whereas I’m more into technique and cooking and things that involve heat a lot of the time, and yeah. But also, I don’t know. I was like, sort of confused by vegetarian sushi.

Sophia: Vegetarians sushi isn’t good. I wanted shishimi, but they don’t do that.

Jakob: Justin: I tried sushi for the first time. Sophia: Ah yeah, it’s not good because you didn’t get the meat sushi.


Sophia: I mean, that’s the good sushi. There’s nothing that bad about vegetarian sushi, like, avocado rolls are fine and everything. But salmon sashimi? Yes.

Jakob: Yeah. How much did this cost you?

Justin: Oh, we went with Sam’s dad.

Jakob: So it was free, for you.


Justin: Because he likes sushi. So they were enjoying their fish sushi, and I’m here like lol.

Jakob: Well, you know. I feel like Sophia, your personal story was also partially mine because I was like the broken gear in your sushi disappointment yesterday.

Sophia: That’s true.

Jakob: Because of that...

Jusin: Okay! My personal story is that I am taking reading and writing poetry this quarter, because I don’t consider myself a creative writer really, I do journalism, I do a lot of reporting, I can write a damn good long academic paper. But otherwise, I’m like I’m not a creative writer, what? But I was like, hey, it could be fun. It could stretch me. And I saw that Natasha Trethewey, the former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner who is a big-time professor here at Northwestern University.

Jakob: This is unrelated, but when she was not a big time professor my high school English class interviewed her because my high school AP English professor kind of like knew her, so yeah.

Justin: She has the best, like, partial southern drawl. It’s very comforting. She also looks eerily like Kamala Harris. Anyway.

Jakob: Body double.


Justin: Anyway. So, I’m in this class, I’m like okay. I’m not a poet. Whatever. But then we start reading, like, contemporary poetry and I’m like maybe I can do this! But then, yesterday was my turn for a big group class workshop. So I’m there with my poem and I start to read it, and I didn’t take a big enough breath at the beginning so I was like gasping for air in the middle of the poem and my voice was kind of shaking. But I wasn’t nervous? I don’t know. I just didn’t breathe well during it. I’m also not good at reading poetry out loud because I don’t have the right rhythm. Afterword, I find out everyone in the class freakin loved the poem, apparently? Like, most other people’s poems, it got into criticism fairly quickly. There were like two other people in our past in our full group workshops who have done very well, and I was like damn. I’m going to be another one of those people who makes a fool of myself. But apparently, it was a good poem. People were like, gushing about it. I do have things to change about it, but it was a big confidence boost and I was sort of riding high after that. And then I was like, maybe I shouldn’t become a journalist. Maybe I should be a poet instead.

Jakob: I feel like of the few careers that make less money than journalist, poet is definitely, like, up there on the list?

[Music: Little Lily Swing]

Jakob: That’s going to wrap things up for this week. This and all other NBN podcasts can be found on iTunes and on Spotify and in the Google Play store, which is cool. Go subscribe to all of them so you get notifications whenever we have new shows. Our show’s theme is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon, which we use under a Creative Commons Attribution License. I'm Jakob Lazzaro, the host of this podcast.

Justin: I'm Justin Curto.

Sophia: I’m Sophia Lo.

Jakob: And this is NBN Audio.

[Music: Little Lily Swing]

Jakob: I feel like proprietary “Happy Birthday” songs is a very, like Kansas thing.

Justin: I was gonna say! I feel like it’s like a hallmark of Midwestern charm.