Archive for September, 2005


Arrggghh! I can't stand it anymore! My mess has taken over our apartment -- piles of papers (documents, receipts, bills, CD's, DVD's, and I think I just saw something with lots of legs moving among the clumps on my desk). It's too much. I am trying to accept myself as I am, but this much messiness invalidates my self, and encumbers the two other beautiful selves who live with me (not counting our pet cornsnake, Snakey, or that thing I possibly just saw skittering nearby) with an unacceptable burden of visual and practical static. ...

I first encountered the concept of entropy during my freshman year of college, while I was busily flunking physics. One thing that did stick was that entropy = disorder (or maybe that entropy = the tendency toward disorder -- can you begin to see why I flunked?). In a closed system, things will tend toward disorder unless you add energy.

Here's an example: your bedroom. Your bed, once made, will, during the normal course of things, become unmade. That will just happen. However, your unmade bed will not, in the normal course of things, re-make itself. For your bed to become made, in the closed system of your room, you (or your enabler) must add energy; i.e., someone must do the work of making the bed. And if somebody wants, God forbid, "hospital corners" ... well, that requires even more energy.

Physicists have a formula that precisely describes the relationship between matter, energy, and entropy. Normally, I would now quickly switch to another screen on my browser and try to Google my way to that very formula, then come back here and insert it as if I'd held it in my head all these years. But this is a time of crisis, and I must try to maintain my ... um ... oh yeah, my focus. (I do remember, by the way, that physicists represent entropy with a capital S -- but not, heaven help me, why!)

I have, in the past, purchased -- and sometimes even read -- books about How To Get Organized. I have read a book by an organizer Oprah likes, and also by an organizer who believes that perhaps I am using just one side of my brain (which would explain quite a lot). I have even bought a deck of inspirational cards, each of which has an organizing tip. I lost it. I also may have lost some of the books as well. I don't know. I'm afraid to look under the white sheets that my wife has placed over some of my huger mess-piles, so as not to freak out our son's piano teacher when he visits. ...

This is my new plan: I am going to try to hire a "clutter coach." I don't really have the money, but I don't care -- and who knows, maybe I do have some money and it's under one of the sheets, or maybe it's being eaten by that possible insect on my desk. But this entropic condition must be dealt with.

Right after I check my emails. ...

4 comments September 29th, 2005

Hot Topic

On the show that will air tonight at 7:30 (and be repeated Friday night at 10:30), I interview Burning Man founder Larry Harvey. I knew next to nothing about this annual festival before I started preparing for our conversation -- nothing except a vague sense that participation would require the denial of comfortable bathroom facilities. But the more I read about Harvey and Burning Man -- starting with their informative website, and continuing with the very helpful comments that some of you left on this blog -- the more questions I wanted to ask him. Because it turns out that the easy, simplistic notions about Burning Man -- naked people! running around! in the desert! -- can easily distract you from the profound community-building ethos at the core of this project. I hope that viewers get a glimpse of the passion and intellect beneath the wry and laid-back surface of this visionary guy. ...

Also, there's a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I got to hang out with some amazing artists in San Francisco as they prepared their gigantic pieces for Burning Man. Continuing a trend in which WJ producer Paul Sullivan has clearly been trying to kill me, I attempted to climb up some razor-sharp wire inside an enormous blue head, and then used a very scary tool called (I think) a plasma gun (though, sadly for my son, not a plasma lightsaber) in order to impress members of the Flaming Lotus Girls art collective. ...

And now, apropos of nothing (except that it shares the title of this little blog item and it's been happily running a lot in my head lately), let me parenthetically mention that the song "Hot Topic," from the first album of the group Le Tigre, is incredibly catchy. That is all.

8 comments September 26th, 2005

Mmm … Crunchy!

This just happened. I had just finished eating the delicious salad that my wife, Sara, had made for lunch (lately she's taken to making a huge salad each morning, taking half with her to work and leaving half for me) when I noticed there was a message waiting for me. (I'd turned off the ringer on my cellphone while recording some voiceover for an upcoming "Wandering Josh" segment.)

It was Sara, calling from the teacher's lounge of the marvelous public school where she's taught for the past two decades. "Just wondering if you ate your salad yet," her message said. "I was just having my salad, and I noticed there were aphids in it." ...

Which reminds me of something our now eight-year-old son said to Sara one morning last year: "Um, Mommy, I never mentioned this, but a few weeks ago I dropped your toothbrush in the toilet." ...

Which, in turn, reminds me of something a youngster at Sara's school once said to the principal. "Mr. Warfield, " the child indignantly complained, "James says I'm a tattle-tale!"

2 comments September 26th, 2005

Bay Area Benefits

I've been kind of busy the last couple of days, preparing to interview two very cool guys -- actor/author Alan Alda and craigslist founder Craig Newmark -- for tomorrow's tapings. (It's the first time we've taped two episodes in one day, and I'm a bit apprehensive. And excited. But mostly apprehensive.) But I did want to mention a few benefits that I'll be involved in over the next few days, in case any of you are interested:

  • Cinematropolis. Tonight (Sept. 22) at 7:30 in San Francisco (yikes -- that's soon!), I'm emceeing at this gala benefitting the Film Arts Foundation, an organization that has been supporting independent filmmakers for nearly three decades. To purchase a ticket, you can go to their website, or you can also call (415) 552-8760 ext. 304 or download and complete the order form from here. There's going to be a live auction, plus a special tribute honoring underground cinema legend George Kuchar. (I'll be going straight to this event from KQED's offices in the Mission, and I fear I'll be underdressed. Maybe I'll just say that I came in costume as an indie filmmaker.)
  • On Saturday (Sept. 24), from 6-9 p.m., I'll be hosting a benefit in Tiburon for Opportunity for Independence, a wonderful organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities throughout Marin County. Details and tix on their website. (By the way, I could use a ride to Tiburon from North Berkeley, in case anyone is going in that direction. Oh, and back to Berkeley, too, now that I think of it. ...)
  • "New Roots: Haircut-a-thon for Hurricane Katrina Recovery." My haircutter, Diane (insert your own haircutter-for-bald-guy joke here), and a bunch of her friends will be holding a Mardi Gras party and haircut-a-thon to benefit people and pets affected by the New Orleans disaster. This event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Sunday (Sept. 25) at Vertical Clearance Hair Salon, 803 Valencia Street in the Mission District. They promise "music, a silent auction, beverages, and a hip new haircut for everyone." (I don't know about you, but the offer of a free beverage pretty much always seals the deal for me.) Don't make an appointment -- just show up with your checkbook (or cash) and disheveled hair.

2 comments September 22nd, 2005

Stream On!

Thanks to the wizardry of Colleen Wilson, a/k/a my Benevolent Webmistress, you may now watch The Josh Kornbluth Show online, in streaming video. Just click on the "TV Program" tab at the top of this page, then scroll down.

And thanks to everyone who wrote in to the blog with your comments requesting the streams. Your voices (including my mom's) were heard!

6 comments September 20th, 2005

Shoyu: An Investigation

So a few weeks ago I got into a conversation with JK Show intern Ben Hamamoto on a subject close to both our hearts: soy sauce -- or, as my Japanese-American wife, Sara, calls it, "shoyu."

Generally, my wife's cultural upbringing and my own Jewish-American one have proved to mesh quite comfortably -- with the singular exception of my shoyu habits. You see, Sara has always taken it as gospel that you do not put shoyu on your rice (an opinion as fiercely held as my late stepmother's irrational hatred of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, though one more relevant to my daily life). By all means add it to your salmon, she avers, but the rice is to remain pristine, shoyu-free.

But I like my rice with shoyu. Lots of shoyu, actually. And while I pour it on my rice, Sara looks at me with ... is "disgust" too strong a word? No, it is not too strong a word.

So I got quite excited when it somehow came up that Ben -- also a lover of shoyu'ed rice -- gets the same attitude from his Japanese-American mom. Neither of us knows why this is considered so horrible. And that would be the end of it -- except that Ben, with the impulsive can-do spirit of an American youth, has begun to research this issue, asking around among both Japanese and Japanese-American family members and acquaintances. His preliminary findings seem to indicate that, while the rice/shoyu dichotomy is strictly enforced among Japanese-Americans, apparently this is not an issue in Japan itself. Which is not to say that in Japan people douse their rice with shoyu; it's just to say that (apparently) it's not an issue there.

Does anyone have any pertinent data to report on this divisive matter? I'd be grateful for any further insights. ...

By the way, Ben kindly brought in his own home-made Rice Krispy Treats to the show's taping last Friday. And no, neither of us even thought of adding shoyu to them. ...

12 comments September 19th, 2005

Outdoor Blogging

Woody Guthrie never wrote a rousing anthem decrying the plight of TV-show hosts with blogs -- and I think I can understand why: I'm tapping away at my PowerBook outside a Berkeley café, sipping Italian coffee, my bald pate shaded from the sun by a big red umbrella ... It's just hard to work up a grievance when doing this is "working."

2 comments September 19th, 2005

Foyled Again

My interview with Golden State Warriors center Adonal Foyle runs tonight at 7:30 (and will be repeated on Friday night at 10:30). If you get a chance, check out the website of Foyle's organization, Democracy Matters. They're doing very cool work around the public financing of political campaigns.

Also on tonight's show: a "Wandering Josh" segment that graphically demonstrates my acrobatic talents.

8 comments September 19th, 2005

Learning Curve

So we were just about to tape today's show -- with Burning Man founder Larry Harvey (a deep guy -- check out this wonderful speech he gave a few years ago) -- and right before the interview I realized that I needed to take a quick bathroom break. And as I crossed the hallway to the bathroom, I was very careful to do what I'd been advised before my first day on the job: always turn off your wireless mike before you relieve yourself! Otherwise, anyone listening in to the taping (and apparently a number of folks at KQED can follow the taping from their office monitors) will -- you know -- hear you. (There's a great scene in one of the "Naked Gun" movies that uses this very gag, to great comic effect.)

So I carefully reached around to my back pocket and pulled out the little battery-pack thing and turned the power switch to "off." And then, a minute later, feeling much relieved, I made sure to turn the switch back to "on." And we did the interview, with me feeling quite smug about my professional handling of the whole bathroom-break-audio situation.

And then, after the interview was over, I started un-miking myself. And that's when I remembered: this time, unlike at previous tapings, they had put two mikes on me -- each with its own battery pack (and on-off switch)!

Ah, the best-laid plans of mikes and men. ...

ADDENDUM: I had just posted this item when my wonderful producer, Lori Halloran, read it and informed me that the correct spelling is "mic," not "mike." Apparently, the way I spelled it further reveals my lack of broadcasting experience and savvy. I think I'm just going to cut my losses and go home (micless -- I hope). ...

7 comments September 16th, 2005

Squirrel Fever — Catch It!

If you happened to catch Tuesday's episode (which, by the way, will be repeated on Friday at 10 p.m.) and saw the "Wandering Josh" segment featuring Berkeley Prof. Lucy Jacobs, an ebullient expert on squirrels and their obsessions, you may have become as smitten as I am with those surprisingly brilliant rodents. In which case, you will be grateful that I'm now passing along a couple of photos of their daredevil relatives, flying squirrels. These candid shots were taken by Berkeley psychology grad student Anna Waisman, who works in Lucy's lab and also was prominently featured in the WJ:

A pensive moment, with nut.

The pix were snapped mere moments ago -- so you are now privy to cutting-edge research in the animal-psych field! Now if we could just find an expert in talking mooses. ...

3 comments September 15th, 2005

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