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August 5, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 196 – Pride 2011 – An Interview…or Two

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Dina Paige explains SIS (Photo by Ninja)

At 1:20am on the morning of Saturday June 28, 1969, police entered a Mafia run gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. It is still located at 51 and 53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village New York. The police had raided the establishment countless times before to take their payoffs. It appears that the combination of delays getting patrol wagons to the site, police mis-communications, and undoubtedly, a growing sense of frustration with the constant raids, a riot broke out on the street, amid crys of “Gay Power”, against the police. Michael Fader, quoted by David Carter in the book Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, explained:

We all had a collective feeling like we’d had enough of this kind of shit. It wasn’t anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration…. Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us…. All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined, and everything just kind of ran its course. It was the police who were doing most of the destruction. We were really trying to get back in and break free. And we felt that we had freedom at last, or freedom to at least show that we demanded freedom. We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around—it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away. And we didn’t.   (source: Wikipedia)

This period in American history also coincided with other civil and social movements of the time, including the African-American civil rights movement, the counterculture of the 1960s and the anti-war movement. The riots lasted for the next six days. It stands as a marker and pivotal moment when the gay liberation movement in North America came of age. Since that year, the last weekend of June has been a weekend of choice for Gay Pride parades, the world over. During the 1970s, Toronto had over the years various events to mark gay pride, but in 1981, after the Toronto bathhouse raids by police where 306 men were arrested, Lesbian and Gay Pride day was incorporated and Toronto’s first official celebration occurred on Sunday June 28.

This year the parade – known simply in Toronto now as “Pride” or the “Pride Parade” was held on July 3 during the Canada Day and American July 4th long weekend. The first year since 1981 that Pride Day wasn’t held on the last Sunday of June was in 2010 when the G20 summit literally closed down the Toronto core during the last week of June. Now it seems that between the city and the Pride Committee, the decision stands to hold it on the long weekend in July, a move that barely conceals the money making, tourism, and commercial nature of the week long Pride festivities.

I am not alone in feeling this way among Toronto queers, but we all don’t feel that way either as CP tells me in today’s show recorded during the pride weekend this year. I should apologize to CP because she might actually wished I referred to her as SP. So…sorry about that SP. D’oh. In today’s show I also talk to Dina Paige, a woman who has created the S.I.S. or the Sexuality Identification System. Using different categories, I can chart my level of femaleness, maleness or gender ambiguity that show where on the gender spectrum I define myself. I spend a few minutes talking to her about that. Enjoy the show.
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HotFRM 196 (16mb)

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July 30, 2011

This Just In: Science Explains Evil – The Media Assures Me So

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 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 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:  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 did?   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 “The 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 in the article, 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 to explain the question of acts as disturbing and vile as the recent events in Norway.   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.

July 29, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 195 – Savage Beauty and a Little Bit O’ Gershwin

A Typical McQueen Creation

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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?

Washing Square Park Rhapsody
Playing Gershwin in Washington Square Park (Photo by Ninja)

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May 22, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 194 – New York is Just Like Toronto With More Stuff

NYC Ground Zero May 6 2011 (Photo by Special K)

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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.

Links:  http://midtownlunch.com/   http://www.facebook.com/4food?sk=notes

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March 27, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 193 – Nonsense, Lunacy, and a Little Cello Music

Leo Zhang – Cellist

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Meshugoss : me·shu·gaas or mish·e·gaas or mish·e·goss (msh-gäs) n. Slang Crazy or senseless activity or behavior; craziness.

Narishkeit:  nar-ish-kite (a nar is a fool) n. Slang Nonsense; foolishness.  “An artist, you want to be? Never mind this narishkeit! Better you should go to college and get a real job!”

Another Saturday morning at the Market and we cover lots of ground.   Subjects of import discussed:  Family Day, Bad Driving, Gender bias ascribed to bad driving, Canada Goose Jackets – everyone is wearing them, the Apple iTouch new killer app – the flashlight, Ninja proves she looks terrible in hats, the saddest music in the worldLeo Zhang – A cellist plays for us in the background (well at least I think so), How to fix a deviated septum, Flash Flicker Photography Group, Flash mobs.

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February 13, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 192 – The End of The World is Nigh

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“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.

Famous people featured: Linda Hunt, Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking, Martin Gardner.    Moons and planets mentioned: Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Io, Europa, Mercury. Places on earth mentioned:  Stratford Ontario, China, Shanghai.

Europa - One of 63 Moons of Jupiter
Europa may be mankind’s only hope.

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February 2, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 191 – Moving Objects With Only My Mind

Filed under: Podcast — Ninja @ 3:28 am

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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.

Former Playboy Mansion in Chicago (circa 1960)

I was duly impressed by the city. I also took some time out on Sunday to visit Madge Weinstein of Yeast Radio and Eat This Hot Show fame.   But the most delightful moment for me was when I watched and then played a game of Mindball at the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology where I moved an object with only my mind.  It was thrilling.

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January 18, 2011

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 190 – Because I Have a Voice

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A Million Things I'd Like to Say

The movie ‘The King’s Speech’ is based on the book written by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy. Mark Logue is the grandson of Lionel Logue, the titular man who saved that monarchy. Special K argues that in fact it was the Queen Mother, Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, known to his family and intimates as Bertie, who really saved the monarchy.  Lionel Logue was the speech therapist known for enabling King George VI, a lifelong stutterer, to speak confidently, sincerely and as a leader during a time in history when the British Empire needed that leadership most: the dawn and period of World War II. Lionel Logue, in wikipedia, is described as being distinctive in his therapeutic method that emphasized humour, patience and superhuman sympathy.

And this is in great part what makes this movie enduring art in its depth and emotional complexity. Geoffry Rush’s performance completely embodies these three qualities. There is no other way, the movie, convinces us, that he could have helped the king otherwise. A normally mild-mannered man, the film portrays King George VI, played exquisitely and poignantly by Colin Firth, as someone who could erupt in frustrated rage when provoked to face the disability that could make or break royal credibility.  For all the remoteness royality seems to the otherwise common man, this film attempts to show the humanity in all of us through Bertie and the heartwarming affection between him, his wife, the Queen Mother, his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret and his lifelong bond with his speech therapist.

Links:  Lionel Logue George VI Stuttering is Cool The King’s Speech

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December 20, 2010

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 189 – PodCursing Meetup



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Vachon Cakes Associated with Quebecois

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.

Political issues discussed: Nanny State, Treason, The FLQ crisis, Pierre LaPorte, and Julian Assange.   Fictional heros mentioned: Lisbeth Salander. Deserts mentioned in a pejorative way : May West, the uniquely Canadian fluffy cake snack, not the film and entertainment sex symbol of the early 20th century.
Podcasters present:  ValerieThe Dude, The Dude Again with Brent, Closet Geek (Brent)


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November 28, 2010

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 188 – Coffee with Tyffanie

Beer Chicken

On a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon in November, Ninja calls Tyffanie Morgan (of Breakfast With Tyffanie). She hails from Kingston, Canada, has been a host of the Kingston’s Gender Bender community radio show, and speaks from time to time on social media.

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 BordersPodcamp Toronto

Other Links

http://www.wordreference.com/fren/cuirette

http://www.rabble.ca/

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Hosanna by Michel Tremblay

Tyffanie's Podcast (when she posts)

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