Jul 17 2016

Travels With My Daughter: Part One

I took my daughter to see Bulgakov’s Apartment. We took pictures next to the bloated cat, Behemoth, then we went in to the strange museum. On our way to Patriarchs’ Pond I tried to explain why Bulgakov, and his novel Master and Margarita, were so culturally important. We walked toward the city centre. Hungry, we read the café and restaurant signs.

“It says ‘best khinkeli in the city’,” I said.

“What’s khinkeli?, she asked.

“I dunno,” I said.

(We had already eaten khinkeli on our first day, but we didn’t know it. It is a giant meat perogie.)

~Eva and Behemoth, the bloated cat*

We walked through the neighbourhoods between Tverskaya and the Arbat. My daughter asked a reasonable question about national history, “surely Lenin and the Bolsheviks meant well…?” I said “ok, we’re going to have to back up a bit”. And my daughter and I talked Russian history, and economics, and revolution, and justice, and fairness, and decency. Then we stopped in the Arbat for a coffee and a Danish.

Our waitress spoke to us in English. I tried to answer her in Russian. I later learned that answering in Russian is rude, it implies that their English is no good.

We bought tourist crap on the Arbat. It was hot and we got thirsty. My daughter looked over my shoulder and said “there is the Kremlin, we can walk down and have a lemonade.” I looked at her and thought, ‘wow, you have only been in Moscow for 4 days.”

(Earlier, she had pointed out that ‘Kremlin’ sounds like a dessert.)

We walked back down to Red Square and then to GUM, where we had lemonades and listened to the weird Italian opera. We took the Moscow metro back to our wonderful hosts on Tatarskaya. There, we lay on a futon, behind a Japanese door watching Soviet sit-coms and retro-thrillers. I worked on my Russian listening skills while my daughter sent pictures out on social media; everyone at home would get to see Behemoth, the bloated cat, and to yearn for a nibble of our khinkeli.

This was one of the best days of my life.

~These are khinkeli

*Behemoth or бегемот translates also as hippopotamus. Bulgakov calling his cat “behemoth” has an echo of Melville calling his whale “leviathan”.

Jun 25 2016

Ipso Brexit-Watch Edition

rhinoHearing of your trouble has forced me to double my interest in your current affairs.

If I sound a little distracted during this show, it’s because I was maniacally hitting refresh on my computer as the Brexit results poured in, and British, primarily English, voters got restless legs and decided to bolt on the half-century project of the European Union. The BBC finally called it for #Leave just as as I was coming off-air. Whether this event proves a push-back against the neo-liberal project, or just a sad and alarming ethno-unravelling of Europe, is yet to be seen, (the latter, methinks) but it made for a pretty good hour of radio, if I may say so. Please listen and enjoy.

Half-Man Half-Biscuit ~ Restless Legs

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Jan 24 2016

On Oddness, or the Saving Grace of Glasgow

Ivor Cutler ~ I’m Happy

Scotch Odds, 1

Ivor Cutler has a gift – so says Billy Connolly – for capturing the dreich of Scotland, the dismal gray skies and the relentless, miserable wet that “seeps into you like a rumor.” It holds you in its clammy grip as closely indoors as out.

I did two years in the lowland dreich. As a young man from western Canada, who’d shrugged off one Russian Winter already (although the wind off the Gulf of Finland that carves through Leningrad in February does have its teeth), I felt Winter in Glasgow would hold no terrors, but I was wrong. After two months of the long daily trudge across Kelvingrove Park to the University, drizzle accumulating on my scalp and trickling down my back, and then back to an allegedly heated student flat, always coated in an icy film, I took to my bed and stayed there for a while. I wasn’t deathly ill, just wretchedly so, hacking, oozing and shaking.

I missed many Russian language classes and had to make my apologies to the instructor, a stern, thickly-accented Russian archetype with the unlikely name of Tatiana Frisby. She nodded with an expression of earnestness, but not of sympathy. She was always pleased to find a reason to get you to agree that life was shit. “Yiss,” she said, “everyone who comes to Glasgow gets this sickness. And then…
…they get the psychological depression.” She was right about that too.

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Dec 11 2015

Ipso Factory 10 12 15

rhino Who’s your leader, which is your flock?

Selections this week were informed by the torrent of misogyny, abuse, and threats of violence being hurled at our provincial government for the audacity of bringing rural labour practices and protections in line with the rest of Canada, as with practices and protections in other sectors.

My personal feeling is that this shit-storm has been brewing since Alberta elected its first progressive government in the history of time; the opponents of that government were simply waiting for the right alignment of celestial bodies before they launched an all-out broadside. It’s ugly, but I think the right may have spent its political capital too early in the NDP’s 4-year mandate. That’s the nature of rage machines; self-control is not one of their strengths. None of this is about whether agricultural employees are covered by Workmans’ Comp. or whether accidents on farms to fall within the purview of Occupational Health and Safety; for the right, it’s about their fear of modernity and their hatred of ‘socialism’, for the not-right, it’s about whether a petro-agro-state like Alberta can be dragged into the 21st century.

It’s also about whether or not we allow blustering, violent, woman-hating assholes to intimidate our politics. To Hell with them, I say.

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Nov 27 2015

Ipso Factory 26 11 15

rhino Neptune, Titan, Stars can frighten.

Like any good B movie, when I am lacking for plot and thin on theme, I reach for the aggressive and demented; that’s the only explanation I have for the musical selections this week. Do, please, enjoy.

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Nov 20 2015

Ipso Factory 19 11 15

rhino and there’s no sickness, toil or danger in that bright land to which I go

This week’s program is directed at the cowards and the bigots of the anti-refugee mob, and especially at the reasonable ones who only want to “hit the pause button”. Pause our response to this massive humanitarian crisis? Sure, why not? As long as for every minute we pause, one of these photographs gets stapled to your eyelids.

The UN protocols for processing refugees have worked for many years, for many host countries and for refugees fleeing many different crises around the world; they will work just fine for Canada now. “Refugee” means you are stateless now, you are helpless now, you are vulnerable now. Refusing to grant refuge now means that you are an “asshole” and, as regards Daesh, you are a surrender monkey.


If I had the time, and Photoshop, I’d have added Saskatchewan to the above graphic, but I’m rather fond of Saskatchewan and don’t hold all of it responsible for its craven jerk of a current Premier.

In other news:
Kudos to Rachel Notley and the NDP government for Bill 7.

Pink Mountaintops ~ Gayest of Sunbeams

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Nov 13 2015

WRPK in New Albertastan, ep. 3


WRPK in New Albertastan

A pair of lovable know-nothing zealots engage in hilarious hijinks as they battle creeping socialism and corporate welfare in the prairie heartland.

Episode 3: Santa’s Government Claws

Scene: WRP HQ

Brian sits at a desk working through a stack of Christmas cards. Derek walks up.

Derek: Signing Christmas cards for the members, are you boss?

Brian: That’s right.

Derek: and you’re… …um.

Brian: Putting a big black X on Santa’s face before they get sent out. That’s right. Because why? Because Santa’s a socialist, that’s why. This whole picking who’s naughty and nice thing, that’s big government pick winners and losers. And picking winners and losers is…?

Derek: …is for free markets to decide.

Brian: That’s right too. Markets and only markets.

Derek: You know how you were telling me to worry about the optics…

Brian: Yeah?

Derek: And you know how you were saying we should boycott Notley’s secret Santa for the Leg?

Brian: Yeah?

Derek: Well the optic might not be so good if we don’t give anything. So how about we give out just a card with this in it? (Hands Brian a slip of paper)

Brian: (reading) “The WRP invites you to join in its boycott of socialist Santa. Christmas is for Christ, not creeping communism.” Hey that’s good, Derek, poetic, even.

Derek: Thanks, boss.

Brian: And you’re right about the optics. We don’t wanna seem heartless. Don’t get me wrong, Scrooge was right about a lot of things, but hey, bad optics. (Grabs his stack of Christmas cards) Tighten your belt, Derek, we got a party to crash.

Scene: Derek stands gloomily near people in festive spirits. Brian walks up.

Brian: That was weird. She winked at me.

Derek: Winked at you? That is weird, boss. Whose name did you draw?

Brian: (glances at a slip of paper) Oh, that is kinda funny. I got your name. Ha ha. (Hands Derek an envelope) “The WRP invites you to join in its boycott of socialist Santa. Christmas is for Christ, not creeping communism.” Ha ha. Who did you get?

Derek: Well, that is funny, boss, cuz I got your name. (Tries to hand Brian an envelope) “The WRP invites YOU to…

Brian: (scowling) I know what the card says, Derek. Shut up!


Oct 15 2015

Ipso Pre-Election 2015

rhinoWhy can’t you be more like our esteemed Satanic guest?

Hey, all you lying pieces of shit, vote, and thereafter stay angry. Here are my pre-election 2015 thoughts, encoded in musical selections.


Let us huff and puff and blow…

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Aug 25 2015

Ipso Factory 20 08 15

rhinoYou know evil is an exact science. Being carefully, correctly, wrong.

This week’s show turned into a 3-hour tour of the stations of the Crass. It was more draining than I remembered. The last time I did 3 hours of radio would have been around 1993 on WHPK 88.5 FM out of the University of Chicago. I’d been a DJ at CJSR for about six years already, and so when I arrived at Chicago, I applied for a time slot and was rejected at first. I had to submit a 40 song playlist so that they could scrutinize my cool, and they found my cool lacking and turned me down. Part of the problem in that year may have been that I thought Superchunk sucked; I also thought that Pavement sucked. History, I think, has borne me out. I was also made the object of ridicule over Canadian content restrictions. “30 percent Canadian, really? Whaddaya do, play BTO and Bryan Adams over and over?” I always answered these jibes with a middle finger and the words “No Means No,” that tended to shut them up. Also, at a social event I earned a hail of laughter and derisive spittle from the WHPK manager, Tom Frank, now better known to the world as Thomas Frank. He sprayed beer rain into my face when I suggested that Randy Newman had subversive value and that Tom Waits was a genius. Again, history has borne me out.

Eventually I was offered a time spot, three hours, from 3 AM to 6 AM on Saturday mornings. I took it, learned to craft a 3-hour broadcast that slowly developed its themes like flavours in a stew. After the first year, I was migrated to better and shorter time slots and remained an odd Canadian fixture at WHPK until 1996 when I migrated back to Edmonton and CJSR.

So, this is my first three-hour show since those times and many of my selections harken back to the campus radio scene in Chicago in the early 90’s. Please listen and enjoy.

James T Kirks
(Canadian content)

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Aug 10 2015

It is the people you meat, at the Cannibal Cafe

Junior Gone Wild serve up an SNFU chili bowl at the Cannibal Cafe. Fortunately, shutterbug Marc Chalifoux was on hand to record the event.

Innocent diners eat a strange form of meat that transforms them, while music lures them to an isolated barn where they face an unknown fate. Edmonton legends Jr.Gone Wild put their own spin on S.N.F.U.’s quirky 1985 classic Cannibal Café.

Enjoy the video, and then, please, cast a vote for it at Storyhive.

Junior Gone Wild ~ Cannibal Cafe

Spoiler alter: Contrary to local legend, she is, in fact, on the menu.

SNFU ~ She’s Not On The Menu

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