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Omnibus! With Ken Jennings and John R...
An encyclopedic reference of strange-but-true stories compiled as a time capsule for future generations.
Society & Culture
Flagpole Sitters (Entry 474.1S1013)
In which Syrian ascetics and American steeplejacks alike enjoy the weirdest fad of all time, and Ken angers marathon runners. Certificate #45561.
71 min
Samantha Smith (Entry 1178.IS1106)
In which a fifth-grader from Maine becomes a diplomatic sensation after writing a nervous letter to Moscow, and John remembers the only fan letter he ever wrote. Certificate #35519.
66 min
The Twins of Benin (Entry 1353.GN2524)
In which we learn that one very specific region of West Africa produces more twins than anywhere else on earth, which could be due to heredity, yams, or, in Ken's mind, a mysterious glowing meteorite. Certificate #29437.
68 min
The Kilogram (Entry 686.DE2513)
In which the dreams of the French Revolution are finally fulfilled by modern physicists eager to re-define science itself from scratch, which probably triggered the alien landing in May 2019. Certificate #37545.
67 min
Trucker Culture (Entry 1343.MT2514)
In which a gas crisis and an early social media network conspire to make long-haul truck drivers national heroes, and Ken gives a big 10-4 to a heroic trucker named "Fuzzy." Certificate #25007.
63 min
Vice Versa (Entry 1393.EP0423)
In which we read the Victorian novel that, a century later, would start an avalanche of body-swapping movie comedies, and John tries to debunk the blind prophet Tiresias. Certificate #30972.
72 min
Queen Victoria's Grandchildren (Entry 1020.IS1418)
In which we follow up on the forty-two offspring of the "grandmother of Europe," including the one who led Germany into World War I and the one who might have been Jack the Ripper. Certificate #26374.
59 min
Cumberland vs. Georgia Tech (Entry 305.RM1219)
In which a revenge-crazed football coach runs up a 222-0 score against a squad of random law students and townies, and John explains why his go-to comedy move is dropping his pants. Certificate #26347.
70 min
Track 61 (Entry 1324.EZ0808)
In which Franklin Roosevelt builds a secret, private train station under the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and John almost defects to East Germany in a gaily colored ski jacket. Certificate #33725.
59 min
Snowflakes (Entry 1181.PS14716)
In which a Vermont farmer unveils to the world a natural beauty of crystalline perfection that's been hiding in plain sight, and Ken and John decide to slander Buzz Aldrin for some reason. Certificate #16919.
49 min
The Turboencabulator (Entry 1348.IS2811)
In which we study the spurving bearings and hydrocoptic marzlevanes of the made-up machine that brought technobabble to the masses, and John actually encourages Ken to talk about Star Trek for a change. Certificate #45305.
68 min
Thomas Nast (Entry 825.JB1534)
In which one Gilded Age influencer puts Santa at the North Pole because he hates slavery so much and runs New York's most powerful man out of town on a rail because he hates the Irish so much. Certificate #33423.
69 min
The Christmas Truce (Entry 220.LK0214)
In which peace and holiday good will break out on the western front in 1914, partly due to the work of suffragettes, and it changes the tourism industry forever. Also, Ken defends fruitcake. Certificate #31405.
62 min
Telling the Bees (Entry 1285.PR2413)
In which we explore one of the weirdest funeral superstitions of pagan Europe, and John explains why he likes to retell Aesop's Fables from the bad guys' point of view. Certificate #44411.
58 min
Patrick Nagel (Entry 823.SS0115)
In which one artist redefines eroticism for the MTV generation, and John gets stuck with a very overpriced piece of Duran Duran memorabilia. Certificate #31513.
68 min
Robert Smalls (Entry 1176.DE2315)
In which a South Carolina slave seizes a heavily armed Confederate ship and sails it to freedom and instant celebrity, whereas Ken doesn't even own a hatchet. Certificate #38760.
63 min
Marmorated Stink Bugs (Entry 761.LV1120)
In which a hard-to-kill Asian insect arrives in America and discovers a delightful new predator-free life eating our produce, hiding behind our picture frames, and making everything smell like cilantro-infused sewage. Certificate #30979.
60 min
Ghost Forests (Entry 527.EZ1724)
In which Ken accidentally goes on vacation to a long submerged, 2,000-year-old forest, and John explains the value he can add to a rugby game or campfire. Certificate #1751.
55 min
Scrappy Doo (Entry 1115.PP0302)
In which 1970s and 1980s TV is overrun by an avalanche of orphans, runaways, and other wisecracking moppets, and John reveals that Oscar the Grouch is a witch in a "fursuit." Certificate #37500.
70 min
The Qibla (Entry 1016.PS5517)
In which the Islamic practice of facing Mecca in prayer becomes a thorny theological and geographical question, particularly for Muslims in Alaska, French Polynesia, or low-earth orbit. Certificate #2405.
75 min
Pumpkin Pie (Entry 1008.JH0406)
In which we consider America's favorite gourd as a botanical mystery, a symbol of autumn, a Civil War flashpoint, an Illinois monoculture, a delivery vehicle for condensed milk, and an instrument of Starbucks-related misogyny and class warfare. Certificate #36525.
66 min
Deep-Fried Turkeys (Entry 325.JN0432)
In which the Cajun cooking fad of the 1980s spawns a hazardous new holiday favorite, and Ken's wife flips us the bird. Certificate #30269.
68 min
The Cagot (Entry 173.2K0527)
In which a tiny French minority in the Pyrenees is shunned and hated for reasons no one can quite remember, and John pronounces the words "goose foot" more capably than Ken. Certificate #28287.
48 min
Jennens v. Jennens (Entry 671.NU2711)
In which the notorious "Miser of Acton" forgets to sign his will, and for over a century thousands of people--including Ken's family--become convinced they are rightful heirs to his $300 million fortune. Certificate #23502.
55 min
Wild Man Fischer (Entry 472.GE1612)
In which a troubled street performer becomes a beloved musician and helps found a landmark record label, Ken buys a booby-trapped painting, and John critiques the storytelling of celebrity children. Certificate #49895.
80 min
The Doomsday Flight (Entry 372.AM0214)
In which the U.S. government tries to ban a Rod Serling TV movie for inspiring too many mid-air extortions, all of which can be foiled by knowing the right trivia fact about Denver. Certificate #41961.
77 min
Albert Pierrepoint (Entry 938.ES0914)
In which a Lancashire grocer and pub landlord becomes the most skilled executioner of all time, and John explains the best part of being guillotined. Certificate #21776.
61 min
Bridey Murphy (Entry 818.JB1414)
In which a Colorado housewife and her tractor dealer friend jump-start the 1950s "reincarnation" fad, and Ken ponders whether or not he was "Endora" in a past life. Certificate #29314.
69 min
The Letter J (Entry 714.1CH0910)
In which a 16th-century jack-of-all-trades judiciously joins a jaunty new Johnny-come-lately to our jargon because he's just so jazzed about Jesus. Juxtaposed with John's jumbled jeremiads and Jennings's juvenile jokes. Certificate #23082.
43 min
The Ballads of Ossian (Entry 094.PR2017)
In which Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, and Goethe go nuts about a best-selling blind Celtic bard who might not even exist, and John writes his first Tolkien fanfic. Certificate #28002
71 min
Brown Sound (Entry 158.MT1517)
In which military scientists, flush from their success annoying Manuel Noriega with Doors music, try to find that one elusive noise that will liquefy their enemies' bowels. Certificate #42964.
55 min
Second Sleep (Entry 1122.ZC0401)
In which John and Ken learn that they share a "chronotype," but disagree over whether it's natural to spend an hour or two every night sitting naked in a chair. Certificate #38846.
69 min
The Hollow Earth (Entry 593.JB2607)
In which we ponder two questions: are we living on the inside of a concave sphere? Or is someone else down there, possibly with skimpy outfits and pet dinosaurs? Certificate #19429.
61 min
Pokemon Go (Entry 958.GE0702)
In which the biggest media franchise and the biggest augmented reality game of all time cause us to consider Zionist trading cards, the allure of wooden boats, and the feng shui of construction workers. Certificate #41843.
77 min
Tsar Bomba (Entry 1345.MI0104)
In which the Soviet Union detonates the biggest bomb in human history, and Ken imagines Nikita Khrushchev as a pro wrestler and a Bond villain. Certificate #20568.
52 min
The Blue Men of the Sahara (Entry 136.PS10704)
In which we meet one of the last nomadic people on the planet and admire their dress code, and John identifies strongly with a camel that roars when loaded heavily. Certificate #42973
72 min
Dancing Mania (Entry 315.LA0515)
In which mass hysteria strikes the town squares of medieval Europe, John imagines the rigors of jute underwear, and Ken wonders if aliens ever start orgies. Certificate #21161.
50 min
Mail Trucks (Entry 749.2S1114)
In which the world's largest, boxiest truck fleet ages into its fourth decade, and John hunts for an elusive postal mascot from his childhood. Certificate #35752
51 min
Albanian Bunkers (Entry 029.RV0615)
In which we learn why one of Europe's most isolated countries is dotted with hundreds of thousands of domed concrete pillboxes, and also why zombie movies are thinly veiled racism. Certificate #46673
65 min
(LIVE) Disco Demolition Night (Entry 356.AC1919)
In which the war between album-oriented rock and its mortal enemy disco boils over into the worst baseball promotion in history, and Ken reveals what 1970s music they play in heaven. Certificate #25815.
56 min
Jefferson, State of (Entry 671.NU2655)
In which a huckster and meteorite-hunter, facing a business disaster, starts a still-brewing secession movement on the Oregon-California border, and also we contemplate who all the Looney Tunes characters voted for. Certificate #26085.
64 min
The Hilbert Hotel (Entry 587.LK0207)
In which we learn what happens when an infinite number of tour buses arrive at an infinite hotel with no vacancies, and decide whether or not this is worse than the guest services at the Eagles' Hotel California. Certificate #44261.
65 min
Anita Bryant (Entry 159.PR0913)
In which a minor 1950s celebrity births America's modern cultural war, and Ken gets to complain about his two least favorite things: bigotry, and orange juice. Certificate #31531.
61 min
The Fourth Crusade (Entry 495.2T0203)
In which a medieval crusade to Jerusalem goes off the rails and ends up sacking the world's greatest Christian city instead. Certificate #11758.
70 min
The Anarchist Cookbook (Entry 045.RV2210)
In which an angry teenager in his local library produces a counterculture classic of booby-trap design, leading to John being suspended from junior high for anarcho-capitalism. Certificate #33047.
53 min
The Saint Helena Submarine Plot (Entry 1096.PS7...
In which Napoleon Bonaparte is disrespected by John's mom, but almost rescued by an English smuggler in a steampunk submarine. Certificate #37796.
44 min
The Berkeley Pit (Entry 115.PS8806)
In which John welcomes the microbes from a Montana copper sludge pit who will surely inherit the earth, and Ken announces how many syllables a dog's name should have. Certificate #50365.
47 min
Inversion Goggles (Entry 659.IS2916)
In which we study the human brain's terrifying capacity for adaptation, via upside-down cigarette lighting, weird-smelling houses, and "stoner" voice. Certificate #37104.
51 min
The '59 Les Paul Standard (Entry 466.PS3302)
In which John explains why there are only 643 of the greatest guitar ever made, and Kirk Hammett of Metallica pays $2 million for a Fleetwood Mac hand-me-down. Certificate #30784.
62 min
Ea-Nasir (Entry 390.LV1913)
In which Sumeria's shiftiest businessman keeps all his hate mail around for four thousand years, and Ken gets accused of counterfeiting by a local bookstore. Certificate #27107.
47 min
Michael Rockefeller (Entry 1078.MI0303)
In which one of America's richest young men gets really into New Guinean tribal art, and ends up getting really into a New Guinean tribe. Certificate #7628.
50 min
The D-Day Crosswords (Entry 318.PR2019)
In which a British newspaper mysteriously spends June 1944 printing top-secret World War II spoilers, and Ken fails to amuse John with a lengthy anagram about a sex scandal. Certificate #29294.
57 min
The Barefoot Bandit (Entry 098.DE2510)
In which John runs down the history of serial burglary, beginning with gentleman jewel thieves and ending with a plane crash in the Bahamas. Certificate #39409.
59 min
Greek Fire (Entry 548.IS6402)
In which the Byzantines save their empire by inventing the flamethrower, John clears up a misconception re: how many roads go to Rome, and Ken clears up a misconception re: how many herbs and spices are in KFC. Certificate #10403.
50 min
Skyscraper Helipads (Entry 1170.IS6008)
In which John blames the boring skyline of Los Angeles on Regulation Number 10, an ill-conceived attempt at making every building in the city accessible by helicopter. Certificate #38095.
50 min
The Voyager Golden Records (Entry 1403.JU0113)
In which NASA gives aliens a weird gift basket (opera arias, a welcome from a Nazi war criminal, a lousy map, and absolutely no nipples!) and Ken gossips about wife-swapping astronomers. Certificate #34914.
73 min
The Truman Reconstruction (Entry 1343.LK1428)
In which a piano starts to fall right through the floor of a second-story dining room, and as a result, the White House gets a balcony, a bunker, and a bowling alley. Certificate #47967.
53 min
Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid (Ent...
In which two art-world provocateurs fly to Scotland and burn through a record amount of cash in just two hours, and John sings his least favorite novelty song of the 1980s for us. (Hey!) Certificate #5888.
61 min
The Washing Bear (Entry 1411.LV2025)
In which John explains the secrets of raccoon hygiene, Ken mistakenly shows up with a ukulele, a straw hat, and a football pennant, and ferret lovers unsubscribe in mass numbers. Certificate #29158.
41 min
The Transcontinental Airway System (Entry 1327....
In which the post office builds a path of giant yellow concrete arrows stretching across the continent, and John questions the sobriety of the pilots of Montana. Certificate #34096.
40 min
The Tri-State Tornado (Entry 1339.JE3023)
In which the most devastating twister in American history tears through 235 miles of the Midwest, tossing around trees, railroad tracks, and popcorn stands. Certificate #9101.
55 min
Christian Science Reading Rooms (Entry 220.HB0202)
In which a Boston woman falls on an icy sidewalk and discovers the secret of the universe, and listeners are encouraged to seek out the most heretical book in their local metaphysical lending library. Certificate #51449.
69 min
War Rugs (Entry 1411.SS0604)
In which we travel to the "graveyard of empires" to witness the birth of an exciting Soviet-era art form, and Ken learns he should have saved the satin bomber jackets of his childhood. Certificate #39950.
57 min
The Koryo Saram (Entry 692.JE2907)
In which tens of thousands of Koreans are forcibly relocated to the deserts of Central Asia and ordered to grow rice, and John refuses to relocate to Kotzebue or Yakutat even though he has a free plane ticket. Certificate #16823.
52 min
Billy the Pygmy Hippo (Entry 122.JB4024)
In which Calvin Coolidge gets a frisky gift from Liberia that ushers zoos into the modern age, and John and Ken fantasize about being president and still sleeping all day. Certificate #47159.
50 min
The Boysenberry (Entry 148.LV2519)
In which a California backyard botanist creates a mysterious new fruit, resulting in one of the century's biggest food fads and reinventing the American vacation. Certificate #36525.
58 min
Prisencolinensinainciusol (Entry 988.1C1423)
In which the world's catchiest song teaches us how English sounds to overseas ears, and Ken mispronounces the French word for "slithy." Certificate #35645.
56 min
The Conqueror (Entry 264.LK1255)
In which an eccentric billionaire has the terrible idea to cast John Wayne as Genghis Khan, and a "who's who" of Hollywood gets showered with both bad reviews and radioactive fallout. Certificate #17145.
53 min
The Bugatti Chiron (Entry 162.EC0911)
In which a Volkswagen marque invents the super-car, new acceleration and deceleration records are set, and Ken asks where John was conceived. Certificate #24968.
63 min
The St. Martin Fistula (Entry 1227.PR2027)
In which a French-Canadian "voyageur" suffers three indignities: being blasted with buckshot at point-blank range, becoming a full-time medical guinea pig, and having John call him the world's first "human fondue set." Certificate #42453.
63 min
The Preppy Handbook (Entry 981.DE2211)
In which John traces "preppy" fashion from Buckingham Palace to Hyannis Port to Kinko's, and Ken wonders if everyone on post-collapse Earth owns a navy blazer. Certificate #31310.
61 min
Duchenne Smiles (Entry 385.PR1513)
In which we examine how flight attendants smile, baby chimps play, botox treats mental illness, and Oscar the Grouch was a harsh wake-up call for Gen X kids. Certificate #42013.
56 min
The Port Chicago Disaster (Entry 967.AC1940)
In which a Victory ship full of ammunition ignites a three-mile fireball, which in turn ignites the biggest mutiny trial in American history. Certificate #32844.
61 min
Gordon Lish (Entry 726.2C0113)
In which Raymond Carver becomes a literary superstar largely thanks to one brilliant, heavy-handed editor, and Ken and John share a very controversial Blade Runner take. Certificate #24875.
66 min
Spanish Fly (Entry 1195.SS0713)
In which a poison made from dried beetles becomes a schoolyard legend as an alleged aphrodisiac, foreshadowing our modern age of creepy predator celebrities and erectile dysfunction infomercials. Certificate #31327.
51 min
The Moon Illusion (Entry 806.JB3126)
In which we learn why the moon looks so much larger at the horizon, whether your fingernails can out-race Portugal, and whether Ken or John has the better Axl Rose impression. Certificate #18042.
50 min
Tylenol Murders (Entry 1354.IS2915)
In which John runs down the disturbing history of product tampering, from Bromo-Seltzer to baby food, and listeners are strongly discouraged from committing murder. Certificate #27765.
60 min
William Rufus King (Entry 688.LK1734)
In which a U.S. vice-president spends his entire six-week term dying in Cuba, and Ken reads some fun, flirty letters from future president James Buchanan. Certificate #39087.
53 min
Backyard Blast Furnaces (Entry 091.EZ2220)
In which John explains why it's a bad idea to smelt iron on your deck or patio, a seemingly obvious life tip that seems to have escaped Chairman Mao. Certificate #30148.
54 min
The Washington Generals (Entry 1411.HE1212)
In which we celebrate a basketball team that never gets to celebrate, because they've lost to their rivals 17,000 times. Certificate #46102.
54 min
Checkerboarding (Entry 210.NU2653)
In which the U.S. government pixelates the American West with land grants to railroads. Certificate #6798.
43 min
Bir Tawil (Entry 126.EZ2010)
In which Ken confesses that he might have caused a land grab in the middle of the Nubian Desert. Certificate #50204.
47 min
Hypercolor (Entry 611.GE3703)
In which we revisit 1991's briefest, brightest fashion fad, and John ponders what to do with our nation's biggest problem: awkward middle-schoolers. Certificate #26275.
50 min
The Angels of Mons (Entry 047.PS9111)
In which an unsuccessful horror writer accidentally rewrites the history of the Western Front, and Ken is clearly annoyed at having to learn the history of the Western Front. Certificate #21873.
52 min
Canadian Floating Feet (Entry 178.RV2013)
In which sneakers keep washing onto the beaches of British Columbia with the feet of mystery people still inside, may God rest their soles. Certificate #27174.
32 min
Vending Machines (Entry 1387.DE0228)
In which Ken runs down the list of everything that could ever be bought by putting coins in slots, from religious awe to banned books to pancake mix. Certificate #16697.
47 min
Call Signs (Entry 176.1S1007)
In which we learn why US radio stations start with a K or a W, and how to get hold of Ken's dad in case of a national emergency. Certificate #28337.
37 min
Hachiko (Entry 559.PR2006)
In which a Scottish policeman, a Tokyo professor, and Mary Queen of Scots have very loyal dogs, but a young John Roderick does not. Certificate #24139.
45 min
(LIVE) Lake Missoula (Entry 697.GN0710)
In which a prehistoric ice dam breaks and 500 cubic miles of water reshape the Pacific Northwest. Certificate #17528
26 min
(LIVE) Tuvan Throat Singers (Entry 1351.PS13704)
In which Ken attempts to teach a new superpower--Central Asian overtone singing--to John and a live audience. Certificate #40632.
37 min
Milli Vanilli (Entry 789.JB2704)
In which a German record producer hires two male models to lip-sync his hits, leading to--girl, you know it's true!--one Grammy, one class-action lawsuit, and one tragic death. Certificate #35145.
57 min
Mary Anning (Entry 050.PS3420)
In which a working-class woman becomes one of the greatest scientists of her age, discovers dinosaur poop, and sells seashells by the seashore. Certificate #36073.
41 min
S.S. United States (Entry 1213.JB0926)
In which an aluminum-heavy cruise liner falls on hard times, and John and Ken can't decide if "Blue Riband" is actually French or not. Certificate #39390.
47 min
Rubber Barons (Entry 1087.EZ1613)
In which Ken describes the nouveau riche of the Amazon rainforest, and John has a conspiracy theory about scarecrows. Certificate #25284.
43 min
Father Coughlin (Entry 284.MT2309)
In which a fiery Canadian gets 30 million Depression-era listeners for his little fascist radio show, and Ken and John pledge fealty to Martian invaders. Certificate #29423
48 min
The Noid (Entry 840.PR0415)
In which a claymation terrorist with inexplicable bunny ears disrupts pizza, takes hostages, and wins America's heart. Certificate #29250
48 min
The Zuider Zee (Entry 1458.NA0104)
In which the Dutch battle their oldest enemy: the Waterwolf. Almost certainly the Omnibus's last entry (alphabetically). Certificate #31078.
45 min
London Bridge Is Down (Entry 733.2K0934)
In which we make plans for the longest-awaited death in human history, and wonder how many Welsh corgis it takes to pull a gun carriage. Certificate #34884.
50 min
Back Masking (Entry 091.EP0427)
In which John investigates whether or not segassem terces naitnoc sgnos kcor, and Ken wonders why Satan would own a toolshed. Certificate #30148.
44 min
Megafauna (Entry 772.JB4015)
In which we learn which Ice Age animal is named after the human nipple, and which modern animal fills John's soul with bloodlust. Certificate #47448.
42 min