Dr. Steven Schlozman was on the phone—on one of those long and dreaded holds—when he received the invitation to speak at this year’s TEDxNashville: “When I was selected I was perusing my e-mail in an attempt to rescue myself from the boredom of being stuck on hold…

I then had to hold the phone against my shoulder in that way that makes my aging neck hurt so that I could excitedly respond to the invitation and not lose my place in that interminable queue.”

Though he is joining us from Massachusetts, Dr. Schlozman is a huge fan of Nashville. As he says, “I realize that I’ve long been envious of Nashvillians (is that a word?) for their ability to seamlessly combine entertainment with enlightenment.  Other cities try to do this also, of course, but usually the two sides of the perilous equation get tipped too far one way or the other.  The only way to learn anything is to have fun, and the only way to have fun is to walk away having learned something.  That’s a balance that Nashville gets.” We’re looking forward to his TED talk “What the Horror Genre Teaches Us About Humanity” combining that same balance of entertainment and enlightenment with—of course—a little bit of horror.

He was almost a Nashvillian himself (and yes, we tell him…it’s a word!). “One of my best friends is chair of the psychiatry department at Vanderbilt and there was a time when he was recruiting me and I was getting excited.  Still, if you have teenage kids, it’s awfully hard on them to just up and move—so I stayed put.” But Dr. Schlozman is eager to visit and will even be taking in some music while in Nashville. His parents are flying in from his hometown of Kansas City and will be in the audience for his TED talk. But then—to make the weekend even more fun-filled and memorable—they’re all headed to the Opry. “We’re super-fortunate to have scored tickets to see Steve Martin and Martin Short,” he says. (We’re jealous!)

Then we can’t help but laugh when Dr. Schlozman compares his talk, “What the Horror Genre Teaches Us About Humanity,” to country music. He says he “…can’t help but to find profundity in apparent campiness.  My talk is on horror as a genre.  If ever there were a sneakily profound form of storytelling, it’d be horror…except of course for country music!  Country music also tricks me, just like horror does, into finding depth while I’m smiling.  That’s quite a trick.”