Positive Thinking
Dec 5th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Just uploaded the summary for “Positive Thinking” which features a 1950s self help tape by Earl Nightingale, an interview with Catharine Allan of Le Melange Magique, an interview with Buzz and Dina Goldstein and a bit with Zouzou, too. The episode also closes out with a Moldy Peaches song (Jorge Regula).

Check out the summary. There is some information on Catharine Allan as well as some other links.

Episode Summaries
Nov 10th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Just posted episode summaries of “Human Nature” and “Who Wants to Live Forever?”

Here’s what’s inside:

  • Heather O’Neill retelling “The Island of Dr. Moreau”
  • Jonathan, Gregor Ehrlich and Howard Chackowicz on a conference call camping trip (including Cat Stevens singalong).
  • Zouzou and Jonathan discussing vampires.
  • Jon Tucker enabling Jon’s unhealthy eating habits.

And more, of course.

David Rakoff, drunk
Oct 23rd, 2008 by Jack Busch

Hello, okay now that it’s several days later, I’ve finally posted up the next episode of Wiretap. It’s not on the podcast yet, but you can check it out on the episode summary page for “The Hangover.”

Not much time for any other comments – I could go on and on about how Jonathan is reaching into diary entries from 2006 for material and highlight the subtle tweaks that have been made since they appeared in the National Post.

But I won’t.

Oh, speaking of National Post, this week’s column featured:

  • Zouzou (as usual)
  • Marie (Clode Palatte? I still don’t know how to spell that.)
  • Tattoos
  • Running Shoes
  • and more!

Have a nice Thursday.

“Jon, do you know how to fix a harpsichord?”
Oct 8th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Thanks to SupernintendoChalmers extra efforts, we have the newest episode: “Where Do Babies Come From and Where Do Babies Go?”

This two act show features Heather O’Neill reading her story “Where Babies Come From” and Howard house sitting for a rich couple on his paper route. Pretty straightforward.

The National Post article today, oddly, was ran on Tuesday as well. There was a picture with the Tuesday one, as seen above. Not sure what’s going on here. Anyway, discussed in this post are Jim Carrey, Dairy Queen, The Jewish New Year (which the U.S. congress gets the day off for, by the way) and the vice presidential debates.

Anyway, I think I’m going to start trying to determine what songs appear in Wiretap. This American Life has a system for figuring that out that involves looking at a master list of songs used. I’m going to try something else. From now on, I’m going to identify recurring songs in episodes and track which episode they are used in. If someone can figure out the actual name of the piece, then I’ll go through and replace the fake name with the real name of the song.

For example, in this episode, during Heather’s piece, there is that song with a kind of I Heart Huckabees feel to it (not that actual I Heart Huckabees song, which is used in several episodes) and a synth-y sounding “ooooo” voice. I’ve dubbed this “Oo Ah.”

And then later in the same piece there is what I’m going to call “Creepy MusicBox.”

That’s where we’ll start. I’ll make a page for these songs later.

National Post: Goldstein on David Foster Wallace
Sep 24th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Wednesday. I am still shocked by David Foster Wallace’s suicide. Really saddened, too. So far, all of the obituaries I’ve read don’t seem to capture just how great a writer he was — his smartest-guy-on-theplanetness — and just how especially sad that makes his death at his own hands.

There are certain writers who make other writers feel awed by their talent, but then there are a couple who, by virtue of their genius for being able to write in virtually any style about any subject, make other writers feel obsolete. It’s scary to think that there was someone out there who could write what you write, the way you write, and do it better than you ever could. RIP D. F. W.

Also discussed, chicken legs, heroes, sitcoms and Iggy Pop’s potbelly and Happy Days.

Read it.

Sep 16th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Sorry, I forgot to mention that I updated both the episode summaries (added Where Have All the Spaniards Gone?) and the Running Jokes page (which is sadly, pretty incomplete).  

Anyway, this last episode, if you haven’t already heard, features Buzz Goldstein talking about his visit to Barcelona, Howard snuggling his pug, Desmond (as seen on the Wiretap Holiday Special video) and Zouzou discussing Batman vs. Superman.


My apologies to Ms. Polygon, who does, in fact, exist
Sep 8th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Oh. Well looks like Ruby, Starlee Kine’s intern, is a real person. Sorry about that. I guess I denied it out of jealousy. If I could’ve been Jonathan Goldstein’s intern at 16, I think I could consider myself fulfilled. Although the intern position at Wiretap is perhaps more ill-fated than the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts. (Was that okay? To make a Harry Potter reference? Do Wiretap fans like Harry Potter?)

Anyway, this week’s episode drew heavily from National Post articles. The show kicked off with some diary entries about Tucker spitting in his own coffee, mohawks, souvlaki and Jonathan in a bathing suit.

These thoughts originally appeared in the articles “Get out of my dreams, get into my copy store” on June 11, 2008 and “The Truth about Spats and Dogs” from June 4, 2008.

The monologue rolled right into a conversation where Jonthan quizzes Tucker about his everyday surroundings.

In the next bit, Jonathan mentions MELBA TOAST, stating “After spending an hour eating breadsticks and melba toast over the sink while reading grocery circulars, I come to the conclusion that my life, too, lately has become more than a little stagnant.”

This rolls into a three-way conference call with Starlee and her intern, Ruby. Some material from the July 23, 2008 “How to buy cottage cheese” appears in this bit.

Jonathan re-introduces himself to Ruby as Starlee’s “older gentleman friend.” I’d like to someday introduce myself as that, rather than so-and-so’s “scrappy sidekick.”

Lastly, Gregor eggs Jonathan on to take dance lessons. In case you were wondering, Goldstein’s signature moves are the robot, “stir the pot” and “shuffle from foot to foot” and “throw in some kicks.”

The episode closes out with Jonathan learning the Soulja Boy dance from ZouZou.

As an aside, this is the first episode which I recorded myself. If anyone missed it, I’ll email it to you or something. Because I have nowhere to host it. And SuperNintendoChalmers will have tomorrow, hopefully.

(Psst. Just joking. Check out the summary to listen.)

National Post: Jonathan Goldstein
Aug 20th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Wednesdays are a layover bump that downgrade my mindnumbing weekday existence from soul-killing to merely soul-crippling. Each Wednesday, I get out of bed thinking “if today goes like the day before and the day before, it probably means that tomorrow will be like today and I’ll have to kill myself by Friday.”

But then I remember its Jonathan Goldstein National Post Wednesday and its like its Christmas, my birthday and Taco Bar Tuesday all wrapped into one.

This week, JG strikes a rather frustrated, melancholy tone, discussing his inability to live in the moment, rather than adjacent to it. It gets pretty harrowing when he seems to be about to reveal that he has lost his touch and is therefore retiring to become a soccer dad, but things perk up at the end.

Like all good things, it begins with chinese food and like all things disturbing and pending repression, it ends with musing over a naked man cupping his genitals.

Read it.

The Other Man
Jul 7th, 2008 by Jack Busch

In 2003, (back when they introduced Heather O’Neill as the author of Two Eyes Are You Sleeping, rather than Lullabies for Little Criminals) This American Life ran the show “The Other Man,” which in the last act featured a story by Heather O’Neill and Jonathan Goldstein about Arizona’s initial distaste for “Johnny.” Here’s the blurb:

Act Three. Mr. Fun.

Jonathan Goldstein and Heather O’Neill tell the true story of what happens when a person tries to intrude on a idyllic family of two, one of whom loves him, one of whom does not. For the first few years Jonathan knew Heather, her daughter Arizona was not very fond of him. For a long time he was nineteenth on Arizona’s list of favorite people — behind the neighbor’s dog and the plumber. Jonathan Goldstein is the author of the book, Lenny Bruce is Dead. Heather O’Neill’s is the author of Two Eyes Are You Sleeping, a book of poetry. (15 minutes)

Some of my favorite highlights:

More JG and HO history. They were “introduced by friends” at a bar, where JG was impressed by how fast Hettie drank beer and she was impressed with how JG was wearing glasses with only one arm. “You look like a cartoon doctor from the side.”

Also, it notes that he had a job teaching magic to kids after school. Which means that the stuff in the Wiretap episode “Everyday Magic,” is founded in a bit of truth.

Jonathan described Zouzou as “a muppet baby Joe Pesci.”

Also, Heather notes Jonathan’s anal retentiveness in this episode, describing his housekeeping tips as “bourgeois” (i.e. not putting your clothes on the line at midnight, cleaning the crisper, and not allowing Zouzou to run through the hall naked in his boots).

Also there’s a part where Jonathan refuses to bring Zouzou’s burger up to the counter for the third time to ask for more pickles and she throws a tantrum. That sounds totally like Jonathan Goldstein’s character on Wiretap. JG (the real JG) is quite fond of the word “acquiesce” and I’m sure the first two times he was simply doing so at Hettie’s bidding. But JG the character is also extremely passive and non-confrontational and would be extremely distressed at the prospect of inconveniencing a Burger King employee for his own sake (see: “Far Away Places” where Gregor advises that JG adopt a Brooklyn accent in order to get more respect).

Anyway, of course they end up friends in the end, but this is a very entertaining and illuminating piece from 5 years ago. It’s always interesting to hear the Wiretap gang on TAL because they are always more candid and less outrageous. Not that I’d want them to be that way on Wiretap (in fact, that’s what makes Wiretap entertaining…the outrageous lies) but its always a treat to peek behind the curtain.

Lullabies for Little Criminals: Supplements
Jun 18th, 2008 by Jack Busch

Because Heather O’Neill won the Canada Reads competition in 2007, her novel has been garnering quite a bit of media stir. Lucky for us, this means tons of behind-the-scenes news pieces and interviews. Here’s your definitive guide to what’s out there on the Internet on O’Neill:

About.com Interview


About.com: You started as a poet, with your book, “Two Eyes Are You Sleeping.” Did you make a transition to fiction at some point, or had you always written both? In what ways does your background as a poet influence your prose?

Heather O’Neill: I think there was always something very proselike about my poetry, the same way that I think there is something very poetic about my prose. After my poetry book came out, I entered a creative writing program and all the poetry classes were full so I took a prose class. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. It was so much easier to get published, too, which helped.

So she started writing prose by default? Gee whiz. That’s kind of how I ended up taking German in college, but mein Deutsch ist absolute Scheiße. It’s kind like how Goldstein ended up with his first Wiretap-esqe piece for This American Life. He told Transom.org:

The next twenty-odd years were uneventful as well as virtually worthless. I completed my public school education and then did a ten-year stint in a telemarketing office. Then one day, my friend Joshua Karpati told me about a phone message that was circulated throughout Columbia University in the early nineties. The message essentially consisted of a Jewish mother telling her Jewish son to go fuck himself. He told me about all the various lives that were touched by this message. I decided to produce a story about it on TAL.

That ended up on the episode “Recordings for Someone” and featured Josh being not-as-shrill-as-Wiretap-Josh and uttering “I diggy-don’t give a rat’s ass.”

HarperCollins Interview

Highlight: Just in case you were worried that Heather O’Neill’s childhood was absolutely ghastly, here’s this:

Q: The vivid first-person narration of your novel makes it read more like autobiography than fiction. To what extent did you borrow from your own experiences as a teenager in crafting the world Baby inhabits?
A: The novel isn’t autobiographical. The down and out world of Montreal was the one that I grew up in, though. It’s a world that is composed of what attracted and fascinated me at Baby’s age. Also, like Baby, I didn’t have a mother. I was raised by my father since I was seven years old. So the longing and absence for a mother is something that is in my bones, especially the difficulties of being an adolescent girl without a mother and looking for maternal love in relationships with boys. A lot of the children in the book were inspired by children that I was infatuated with. My dad is very different from Jules. But he’s similar in being eccentric and outrageous, but more in a tough guy kind of way. Like Jules, he tried his best, although his idea of parenting was absurd.

HarperCollins also provides a reading guide, for those of you who want to start a Heather O’Neill coffee clatch.

Lullabies for Little Criminals has an extensive Wikipedia entry, too.

Highlights: List of awards:

  • Winner of Canada Reads 2007
  • Shortlisted for Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award 2007
  • Shortlisted for the Amazon.ca/ Books in Canada First Novel Award 2007
  • Shortlisted for Governor General’s Award 2007 (TBA)
  • Winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Best Novel 2007
  • Shortlisted for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montreal 2007
  • Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2008 (TBA)

A Quill and Quire profile. Written more narrative style and less Q & A.

Highlight: Notes that Zouzou isn’t allowed to read the book and that Hettie has “a soft voice that is impressively smooth, given how many Camels she will smoke in the hour I’m there.” Always nice to know which cigarettes a writer smokes.

Here’s a story in the New York Times. Not an interview, but I found it in my search. It’s called “Almost Home.”

Ohh here’s a good one: TheStar.com has an article which gives us insight on Heather O’Neill and Jonathan Goldstein’s relationship.

O’Neill won a scholarship and graduated from McGill at the age of 20. A short-lived liaison produced a daughter, Arizona, now 12, to whom O’Neill is devoted. They live in Montreal with Jonathan Goldstein, host of CBC Radio’s show WireTap and author of Lenny Bruce Is Dead, a novel.

“I was 22 and he was 26 and we met when we were both reading our poetry at this little bar in Montreal,” she recalls. “He came in soaking wet from the rain and when he read, I thought it was the greatest poetry I’d ever heard. We traded our chapbooks. For years we were each other’s only fans.”

Also, the article mentions Paul Tough, who is interviewed twice by Howard on Wiretap (once in character and once as himself).

This brief article from The Aucklander News noted that Heather O’Neill was on a “celebrity panel” of judges for some kind of poetry slam.

Okay there are a lot more, won’t summarize but here are two more for now:

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