In this episode I talk with long-time friend and pod-colleague Madge Weinstein, of Yeast Radio, who happens to be my cousin about 30 times removed. After all, we are both descended from the same 350 people that may have originated from the middle east and settled in eastern Europe around the fourteenth century.
Keeping roses in cold water. Trump. Biden. Pence. Harris. Authoritarianism. Ancestry. Eudaimonia. The end of democracy. Lack of critical thinking skills. Yuval Noah Harari. Global Warming. Marvin the Depressed Android. 23 and Me. Being kicked out of the middle east because we ate with our mouths open. Shtetls. Audio tech. Genderqueerness. Stonewall. The fly on Pence’s head. Political theatrics. The narrative is what it is. Nonbinary should extend beyond gender. Don’t stay in your ideological bubble. Health Care Terrorism. Canadian Health Care that we pay for with our taxes which I completely omitted to say – so sorry to mislead. ObamaCare. Money talks. Activism. Direct action. The end of democracy. The Green New Deal. Did I say, the end of democracy?
Special K and Ninja meet Charlie at the St. Lawrence Market. Ninja waits for the balalaika player to begin and it seems like it will never happen. Special K and Charlie entreat Ninja to spare you this visit but Ninja maintains that every moment is a podcast moment. They help Charlie choose hors d’oeurves for an evening soiree. Ninja concludes that the world is full of Eleanor Rigbys.
I read Life Hacks by Keith Brandon so that you don’t have to. There are 1000 so-called life hacks in this book. I share my review that is more of a rant against misinformation that Brandon is guilty of shamelessly spreading.
Extra Info you may want to know:
Link for hack number 317: “Daytime naps help to improve your memory and cut the risk of heart disease” can be found at ynquiz.com.
Despite the disclaimer that the author and publisher accept no responsibility for misadventure caused by following any of these hacks, this reader thinks that it is extremely irresponsible and unethical to publish this book without rigorous fact checking. There is no excuse for propagating false, incomplete, or misleading information. And the author shouldn’t be profiting from it. If he wanted to maximize his credibility, citing sources and proof would have helped. Save your money and time and skip this one altogether.
Did I Say “street” in the Podcast? I Meant Avenue.
This week Special K and I, by chance, happened upon an apartment building that was top to bottom inside and out done up with colourful and original Halloween decorations. Debbie Andrews and Gary Smith have been doing up the building at 88 Bernard Avenue in Toronto for thirty-five years. This year was the last time they would be doing it. Every year they have had hundreds of children and adults visit their haunted building. They bring home buckets and pillowcases full of candy after being scared in all manner of ghastly goulish ghostly ways.
Now they are on to smaller but no doubt better things. They are leaving the building and moving out to a smaller town in the province. Debbie says they won’t be doing this ever again but I say never say never. Have a listen to the interview I did with her about the joys the last thirty-five years have given her and the neighbourhood.
Created with LED filled Ping Pong Balls in Bickford Park Toronto Nuit Blanche 2012
If you don’t know what Nuit Blanche is, it’s a sunset to sunrise festival of art held in cities across the globe. In Toronto, it is normally held the last weekend of September. Originally conceived in Paris in 2002, the name has come to mean “Sleepless Night”. There are far too many art events and installations for any one person to see in a twelve hour period and Special K and I are no exception to that limitation. In my show today I focus on sharing soundscene audio from a mere five out of dozens of events. Glow in the Dark is the first. L.E.D.s inserted into hundreds of ping-pong balls light up the ground in Bickford Park. The result is unexpected. Highwater 2012 is a floating display of objects in the Roy Thompson Hall pond. Objects, somewhat ghostly in their whiteness, float by below us, evoking an odd sense of loneliness and discomfort. Who do or did these objects belong to? Where are their owners now? What were their lives like? Lifecycles, 2012 is a video installation with original soundtrack that shows the time-lapse growth cycle of what we think is kale, that grew in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the artist. We also stop by transparent sealed booths to listen to three masters solving the Rubick’s cube. Each solver has a microphone attached to their sleeve and the sound captured is amplified through speakers. Finally I share the surreal experience we had at the installation Caverne St-Clair 20012. Fragments of culture, writing, and musical scores found in 2012 are re-interpreted by the artist in the year 20012 with some strange and hypnotic results.
Inside: Archaeological Findings From 2012
Enjoy these snippets of Nuit Blanche 2012. By the way, if I haven’t said this before, my shows in recent years are best listened to with headphones for a feeling of actually being there, noise cancelling headphones if you have them.
Ed Champion is the creator and producer and correspondent for the Bat Segundo Show, a cultural and literary podcast that in no way intentionally tries to imitate the conventional interview format. He has been podcasting for over 6 years and has produced an impressive 500 shows. On the occasion of editing his last show I interrupt his work to interview him about this prolific podcasting run. Over Skype, he tells me, among other things, that in post-production he will sometimes edit his questions which can go on in what he calls a rambling fashion. He does this because the listeners are there to hear who he is interviewing, not him. But in my show today, Ed gets the entire floor to himself. He’s on the other side this go around.
Or right-click to Download : HotFRM 213 (64mb 1:07.47)
Names, places, end-links, and other podcasts mentioned:
On the occasion and eve of the final Podcasters Across Borders conference, I, Mike, Shane, Adam, and Rick do a content walk from Ottawa’s Elgin Hotel to Parliament Hill and back again. We try to get into trouble but it doesn’t work. We do talk about things that could get people into trouble, though. I talk to some tourists. Shane waxes philosophical about personal happiness and the end of humanity. We consider the War of 1812, its 200th anniversary, and the origin of how Ottawa became the capital of Canada. We get a more than a little meta about podcasting and Adam Curry. Finally, we pay verbal tribute to the last PAB conference. Join us for the walk, the talk, and the beauty of Ottawa, Canada:
This past summer, Special K, Dragon, Fly and I went to Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Civilization. The highlight of the visit was the exhibit called Japan: Tradition. Innovation.The exhibit showcased Japan’s achievements in design. I wanted to take home everything I saw, including a robotic seal intended for elder care.
Are you a lesbian? Have you ever been a lesbian? Well Holly Near was. Singer, songwriter and activist, she was a lesbian-feminist in the heady, crazy days of early gay and women’s liberation. In the 70s she sang with the prolific and talented ladies of Olivia Records; with the likes of Cris Williamson , Meg Christian, and Teresa Trull. Olivia Records eventually stopped producing lesbian-feminist music and morphed into a cruise line and travel company. Oh and Holly Near herself morphed into a heterosexual.
Today’s show is about the Olivia Travel company. During a recent trip to Ottawa, we had the pleasure of dinner with some friends of our travel companions who live there. Talk turned to what it was like to holiday in a resort exclusively for women. Also mentioned, in case you don’t know her, is the comic Karen Williams who has worked as a comedy writer, host of In the Life, and featured in the documentary We’re Funny That Way. Marga Gomez, as part of the resort entertainment, was also on the trip. Other Musicians Mentioned: Carole Pope, Kevin Staples. Other Artists Mentioned: General Idea, A.A.Bronson. Lezebrities Mentioned: Rosie O’Donnell
In the aftermath of the horror that took place in Norway recently, the headline on the Globe and Mail print version today reads: Can Science Really Explain Evil? Doesn’t that seem just a bit sarcastic to you? It did to me. Let’s have a look at that statement – shall we? First of all the statement belies an underlying assumption about science, in this case, as an authority that makes you sit up and ask challengingly, “Yeah? Can they?” Note that I did not write it. I wrote they. That is because here is another assumption: That science represents the collective opinion of a group of people rather than a system of knowledge. Now let’s imagine that I am ultra-religious. Or even a little bit religious. Or even religious in a tiny way ; in a way that has been unexamined, say the type of faith you have in a belief that you have never bothered to question. Like Christmas: good; Ramadan: makes me feel funny and uncomfortable. In this case the belief is: There is a group of people called scientists that arrogantly believe they can solve the mystery of life, the universe and everything (to turn a phrase). Oh and by the way these stuck up geeks think I caused global warming. This ingrained belief in the truth of what a scientist really is leads me to the next question I then ask myself: If science can’t explain evil, what can? What is the next choice? Oh! Maybe faith? Maybe religion? It doesn’t matter. The question is the hook that makes you buy the paper. If you’re a skeptic like me, the last thing you want to do is fork out the coin. Instead I went to the internet version and read the associated article. Nowhere in the article is there any implication or certainty that science has the answer to this pseudo-authoritative question. I’ll repeat it again – just in case you forgot : Can Science Really Explain Evil? Who said science ever has explained evil? There is only discussion of neuroscience and psychology. In fact one of the more banal statements that is made in the article is that the scientist, who is representing the complexity of this question, reveals that empathy is on a spectrum and that “[t]he spectrum approach reminds us that none of us are angels and none of [us] is the devil [sic] …” Well. Thank you so much for that gem of wisdom. Now I understand everything. You may be wondering as I did, why there is no mention of that other discipline that explores the problems of our day known as philosophy. Oh, but there is. It is explained that the scientist’s “…investigations are more practical than philosophical”. It seems to me – call me a little out of it – that neuroscience and psychology, being rather young disciplines, ought not to have been called upon as the only route to explain the question of acts as disturbing and vile as the recent events in Norway. Using philosophy is wanting because, well, it’s difficult to distill and present the difficult concepts to a layperson – especially when, as a writer, you are trying to make deadline to keep the paper afloat in these times of yellow journalism. And anyway – philosophy is way beyond what most of us can handle in the age of quick sounds-bites and headlines delivered to our already overflowing inboxes.
Was the media ever anything more than yellow journalism? That’s a good question to ask too. And mostly I want all of us to ask a lot of questions.
Special K follows the fashion world, so it made sense that she didn’t want to miss the late designer Alexander McQueen’s retrospective Savage Beauty. It was showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during our New York trip. I’m normally not so keen on fashion, so I didn’t expect to be blown away by the exhibit. On Feb 11 2010, McQueen tragically killed himself in his London flat at the age of 40, just days after his mother’s death. He was known for his runway spectacles, outrageous edgy performance art meant to compliment his fashion creations and make a statement. I didn’t even know any of this about him when I followed Special K and Dragon into the first gallery. Despite the crushing crowd, straining to get a glimpse of his works adorning mannequins and on display platforms, I lingered over what I realized were oddly compelling works of art. I couldn’t believe that anyone would collect razor clam shells, strip them, varnish them and then drape them over a woman’s body or make a leather suit with bleached denim attached and taxidermy crocodile heads. I think the pieces that intrigued me the most were his monstrous lobster claw shoes and the endless variety of masks, some playful, some nightmarish, adorning the mannequins’ heads. To me, it is brilliant, ironic, and a little mischievous that these pieces are even called fashion. Instead, each garment tells a story and makes a point, sometimes terrible as illustrated by his collection called Highland Rape.
Besides seeing this exhibit, we also took Dragon and Fly through Central Park and through an photographic exhibit by the Korean artist Ahae. Walking through the Vanderbilt Hall in the Grand Central Terminal, we saw but a small sample of the many photographs he took over the course of two years from one window where he lives and works in Korea.
And what trip to New York would be complete without a pianist in Washington Square Park playing Gershwin’s iconic Gotham tune Rhapsody in Blue?
Playing Gershwin in Washington Square Park (Photo by Ninja)
I haven’t posted a show in two months. I have some good reasons for that. For one thing I’ve been working hard and enjoying my new day job. I’ve also been spending time working on another new project http://threegratitudes.ninja-radio.com/. Every day I think of three things in my life to be grateful for and share them on the site. You would think that coming up with three things to be thankful for every day would be dead easy. It’s not. There is so much tragedy and negative things happening in the world and in my life every day, that to take delight, pleasure and gratitude in small and simple things around me can be tricky. Especially on a day to day basis when much of our days also take the form of eat, work, sleep, repeat. But I am persevering in this. I have seven months to go and then I’ll end the project. Until then, you can join me if you want in the project in various ways. You can email me at email@example.com with your gratitudes or comment on the site. Either way your gratitudes will make it to the project.
A New Concept in Fast Food (Photo by Ninja)
This month Special K and I took our friends Dragon and Fly to New York. Fly had never been there and it had been many years since Dragon had. In today’s segment, we visit an interesting restaurant for breakfast called 4Food – the purpose of which is to de-junk fast food. We run into many French tourists. The aim that day was to visit to Ground Zero the day after Obama visited on May 5, 2011. Surprisingly we were stopped by a journalist who interviewed us for Swiss Public Radio about 9/11. Bit of a switch for Ninja. We also find out that there is a huge French community in New York. We talk about the movie Winter’s Bone and a class of humanity that are sometimes, but not often, represented in movies. Other movies discussed: Pulp Fiction, Deliverance, The Fly. Food mentioned: Pressed rice patties. Television Shows referred to: Modern Family. Broadcasters mentioned: Swiss Public Radio, The CBC.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein
What do Canadians do while they are waiting for the end of the world? Watch hockey of course. But that doesn’t stop Ninja from engaging her father and nephew in a lively discussion about impending global catastrophe. But before we get to that, Ninja shares expert information about climate change, how petroleum is processed, and what is required to support life here and elsewhere in the universe. Ninja is hoping to soon make the three and half year trip to Jupiter’s moon Europa where scientists think life could exist in our solar system.
Last fall, Special K and I took a short trip to Chicago. We covered a lot of ground during our five day stay there. We visited our usual museums and restaurants. Special K took me on a tour of the Gold Coast, one of the more interesting architectural areas of the city.
Why? Because 1+1 gives you the same value in China, or in Japan, or in the U.S. or in Saudia Arabia, Africa, or South America. God is different across cultural, racial, national and individual boundaries.
When the Scarborough Dude shows up, you can bet that the conversation will not be safe for work and the podcaster meetup in December was no exception. We start out discussing C words, the W and T word, J word, D word and F word. We then effortlessly move onto the discussion of violence – domestic and workplace. Talking out of my ass, I refer to bill 184, but what I really meant was bill 168. This bill came into affect on June 15 2010 and amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act specifically with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace. Bill 184 is an act to amend the floral emblem act – not remotely related to workplace harassment or violence. I for one come away less closer than I expected to a working definition of psychological versus physical violence.
So you are forewarned. Don’t play it full blast at your cube or within ear’s reach of your mother or nana.
While Ninja sips her delicious coffee, they discuss the subtleties of cooking beer can chicken on the grill, gardening, yard vermin, gender bending, musicals, queer politics, have the requisite meta-talk about podcasting, social media and Podcasters across Borders. There may or may not spoilers in this show about Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. She didn’t specify which kind of beer she used for her chicken. Broadway Shows mentioned: Hair, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Classic Canadian Plays mentioned: Hosanna. Canadian small towns mentioned: Picton. Iconic Gay Music mentioned: Madonna, ABBA, Disco Podcamps mentioned: Podcasters Across Borders, Podcamp Toronto
Eyafjallajokll and Northern Lights (Photo copyright Gunnar Blondal)
It’s ok. You don’t have to try to say to the name of the Volcano that crippled air travel in the spring: Eya fak ylla yo kuth. Even if you try it that way – it won’t work unless you are Icelandic – so there. But even so I’ve provided a lesson or two in this show. Then, join Special K and I at a lovely Reyjkavik cafe while we soak in what little sun comes out that day.
Leaving Reykjavik Harbour to Whale Watch (Photo by Special K)
Well, here it is : the first podcast of our June Holiday. Special K and I spent an amazing week in one of the most beautiful countries in the world – Iceland. On the first day we visited the hot spring known as the Blue Lagoon located between the cities of Keflavik and Reykjavik. The mineral salts in the spring gave us straw like hair and, being the vain Ninja that I am, I feared I’d be stuck with bad hair forever. On the second day, we went whale watching. Based on what we learned later – many Icelanders have more than one job. But we were still surprised to discover, a couple of days later, that our wonderful whale watching tour guide was none other than Tomas Lemarquis star of the brooding Icelandic film Noi the Albino. I should have guessed it, with his calm, melodic, meditative speaking tones leading us through our first Icelandic sea adventure. Listen to the audio of that experience:
Scott. To be real. Ninja, Special K and Charlie discuss ring tones, batteries, and Toyota recalls. Special K reveals the truth about shaving accelerator pedals. Ninja interviews a salt merchant who offers up a scent test of truffle salt. It really does smell foul, but apparently tastes great. Ninja maintains that you can’t dance and stay uptight.
Today I have a special treat for you – An original synthesized piece composed by that special delivery guy from California Gold country : Special Delivery Mark. It’s called Sequence1 (beta). No doubt that is just its working title. It’s extremely soothing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
One of the Musical Tools of Mark
Later, Special K and I find ourselves at a new car wash near the sound stages of Hollywood North. We are trapped in line because of some poor soul who has no idea how to navigate his way through a touchless car wash. While we wait, we discuss Roman Polanski, Frantic and Rosemary’s Baby.
Hellbound Alleee of Mondo Diablo fame gets it right on the nose. There is no rhyme nor reason to the world and this life. There doesn’t have to be. But that is not the subject of this post. I am responding to her episode number 195 of Mondo Diablo where a believer says that the number one question of non-believers is “Why is there evil if there is a god?”. Of course it’s the number one question that non-believers asks because the answer, that normally involves how god gave us free will to test our faith, is incomprehensible. It simply does not answer the question. This whole business of free will and its relationship to evil begs the question of god, as Alleee points out in Mondo Diablo #195 : “What, indeed, do we need god for if we have free will”, she asks. What exactly would be the point?
The whole question of a free will and the fallen world is very foreign to all other non-christian religions because no other religion has this concept of original sin. Why bother to create an Adam and Eve if they’re going to disappoint you and once they’ve disappointed you why not just destroy the world and all its sinners and start over? Oh sorry. Is that what is supposed to happen with the coming of the apocalypse and Armageddon? One might argue that the ways of the superior being are not understandable to us. Then why bother at all believing? If his ways are not penetrable, then why should I waste one moment on it? I’ll tell you why: because there are only about 1.5 billion of us in the world who are self described non-believers in a god and the rest believe in one (or many), much to the puzzlement of non-believers, who spend a considerable amount of time defending ourselves against this offense to our sensibilities called “belief in a god and all that it means.”
Alleee hits another one right on the sweet spot in that episode. I have to say it again because I love it: “The search for comfort is not the same as the search for god.” These are indeed and importantly two very different things. A god is a very terrible thing to believe in. A “bubba meisis” as my mother would say, “an old wive’s tale”, a scary monster thing to tell your children to keep them in line. And then we tell them that it’s ok to believe in the scary monster because they’ll be rewarded when they die by some other fabrication called heaven or resurrection or rebirth as a brahmin, or with virgins in an afterlife that they can rape with abandon.
On the other hand I would like very much to remind Alleee how she got here – Her wonderful show Mondo Diablo, that I have been enjoying for 4 years wouldn’t even exist if it were not for someone’s belief in god. How’s that for a slap in the face?