Archive for September, 2005

Sign O’ The Times

So a couple days ago I was on a crowded BART train, riding back to the East Bay from KQED's San Francisco offices, when at a downtown stop (I think it was Powell) a man in Secret Service-type garb came striding through our car. He was talking loudly into a little high-tech microphone, saying something like, "I have lost visual contact -- repeat -- I have lost visual contact!" And then ... he strode off the train, the doors closed, and we headed off toward the next station. For a few moments, we passengers all just stared at one another -- possibly trying to decide, collectively, whether we should be worried about something. But then we all seemed to share a collective shrug; there were a few chuckles, and then we were all back in our semi-private worlds. We live in strange times, methinks. ...

By the way, the Prince song "Sign O' The Times" (which I'm listening to now on my iPod) is an amazing piece of music: funky, spare, moving, beautifully structured. Somewhere Marvin Gaye is smiling. ...

5 comments September 14th, 2005

Burning Question

Once again, sooner than I expected, we're closing in on another Friday, the day we tape our shows for future broadcast. At this week's taping, I'll be interviewing Larry Harvey, founder of the annual Burning Man festival. Do any of you have stories to share about your experiences there? If so, please put them in the "comments" section below this item. It would really help me prepare for Friday's conversation.

4 comments September 14th, 2005

Boxer Day

We've made a lot of fairly random decisions in the run-up to getting our show on the air. For instance, at some point someone asked, "What kind of snack should we offer our guests?" and I instantly replied, "Rice Krispy Treats!" Now, I imagine that on another production, this suggestion might have been followed by a certain amount of back-and-forth discussion. Somebody might have raised the question of whether Rice Krispy Treats might make our guests' hands sticky and perhaps even lock their jaws together. But here at The JK Show we reject such bureaucratic temporizing. We follow our gut. Plus, all of us really like Rice Krispy Treats. And so it was done.

Strangely, however, none of our guests so far have actually eaten any of the Rice Krispy Treats -- which is especially odd, as the Treats are stacked very aesthetically in a nice bowl right in front of the guest couch. Finally, by the third taping -- my interview with Senator Barbara Boxer, which will run tonight at 7:30 -- I decided not to be so passive on this issue. Impulsively, I reached over and picked up the bowl, tilting it toward her so she could get an up-close look at the enticing Treats it contained. "Senator," I asked, "would you like a Rice Krispy Treat?"

Now, you may be thinking that -- given this rare opportunity to talk with one of the most influential politicians in the nation -- I might have had other, more important things to ask her about. But you have to understand the context: We had been chatting about Sen. Boxer's first novel, a soon-to-be published thriller titled A Time to Run. This book features steamy love scenes and back-stabbing political skullduggery. Clearly, the woman who wrote it has experienced a great deal of passion in her life, and is no stranger to following the whims of impluse. In short, Sen. Boxer would seem like the perfect person to offer a Rice Krispy Treat.

Sadly, though she was a joy to interview, I must report that Sen. Boxer -- politely but firmly -- declined the Treat. She did, however, happily sign the back of the set (a tradition we're establishing with our guests and crew) -- and her enthusiasm for fiction-writing was delightful and infectious. We were all sad to see her go -- though quite possibly there were one or two things happening in the world that did require her attention. ...

Also in tonight's show, by the way, is the first "Wandering Josh" segment -- featuring my on-campus visit with UC-Berkeley professor Lucy Jacobs, a charming and brilliant expert on (among other beings) squirrels. Yes, squirrels! They're amazing! (Trust me.)

14 comments September 13th, 2005

Lovely Rita

Here's how I prepared to interview Rita Moreno, my guest on the first episode of The Josh Kornbluth Show (airing tonight at 7:30 p.m.):

  • Stared incredulously at my producer and gasped, "Rita Moreno is willing to do an interview with me?"
  • Immediately reconfigured my Netflix queue, moving West Side Story and Carnal Knowledge to the top, so I could re-watch them (the former with my family, the latter decidedly without).
  • Called several friends to say, "Guess who I'll be interviewing on the show?"
  • Repeatedly reassured those friends, "No, really." Sometimes adding: "Apparently she lives right here in Berkeley!"
  • Tried unsuccessfully to find The Electric Company on DVD, much to my wife's chagrin.
  • Loudly sang several songs from West Side Story, along with other KQED employees, while riding in the free shuttle van to BART.
  • Was politely asked by my son, sometime late in the evening, how long I expected to be compulsively singing songs from West Side Story.
  • Met Ms. Moreno in the greenroom, noting that she looks approximately 30 years younger than she actually is.
  • Asked her my first question.
  • Immediately fell under her spell.
  • Relaxed.

You know, I could get used to this gig.

Rita Moreno will be performing her cabaret act, "Between Love & Fascination," at the legendary Plush Room in San Francisco from Sept. 20 through Oct. 9. Then, next year, she'll be appearing as Amanda in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre from April 6 through June 4. ...

By the way, while preparing for this interview, I discovered the HBO series Oz (on DVD -- we don't have cable), which I am in the process of becoming addicted to. There are many fine performances -- but Moreno is just amazing in it.

19 comments September 12th, 2005

Love Streams?

My benevolent webmistress, Colleen, has suggested the exciting possibility of making all or part of "The Josh Kornbluth Show" available here, online, via streaming video and podcasts. Would this be something people would want? Please let me know.

57 comments September 12th, 2005

Ice Ice Baby

I don't have a really delicate way of putting this, but my butt is quite sore. Just wanted to mention that.

The injury occurred in the line of duty, as we were taping a "Wandering Josh" segment for the show this week. I was working out with members of "Team Thunder," the acrobatic young people who entertain the crowd during Golden State Warriors home games by jumping from trampolines and performing amazing and elaborate air-flips before stuffing the ball through the hoop. The idea of this segment was that they would teach me how to do at least a simple trampoline-to-hoop maneuver. This was in many ways -- painful ways -- not such a great idea, considering my middle-age-osity and astonishing lack of physical grace.

This "Wandering Josh" will run along with the Adonal Foyle in-studio interview (which was incredibly fun, by the way -- he's got to be one of the most charming people on the planet), and WJ producer Paul Sullivan did a wonderful job in shaping my misadventures into a cool piece. But oy, my poor coccyx! I'd be in even more discomfort right now, but fortunately another producer on the show, surfer extraordinaire Elizabeth Pepin (no relation to Jacques), prescribed a regimen of icing -- 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off -- which has worked wonders.

I've begged Paul and series producer Lori Halloran to make our next "Wandering Josh" segment something a bit less active. (One idea I'm pushing for is for me to do a stint in the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic. My wife -- along with much of our neighborhood -- thinks I suffer from sleep apnea.)

6 comments September 10th, 2005

Pre-Interview Jitters

My dad's best friend, Chuck, was a minister who often preached at a church near our apartment. So on Saturdays Chuck would often come visit us for dinner and then stay overnight, heading over to the church in the morning. And each Saturday evening he'd have this same, growing tension -- because Chuck suffered from writer's block, and he wanted his sermons to be just right. Also, Chuck was an amazing procrastinator -- so often, late into the evening, he'd regale young me with entertaining lectures on religion and politics, alternating with reading my huge collection of Charlie Brown comics (which he loved) ... but I knew that what was really going on was that he was experiencing the Dread of the Impending Sermon. And sure enough, in the morning I'd find him in the living room, nearly sleepless, anxiously scribbling on note cards.

And here I am, on Friday morning -- Fridays are when we tape our show -- sitting at my computer rather than scribbling on note cards (ah, how things have changed!), engaged in the very Chuck-like practice of nervously preparing for my interview with the amazing Adonal Foyle. This interviewing stuff is so new to me -- and what I'm finding particularly challenging is doing justice, in the short space of an on-air conversation, to all the complexities and depth of people's lives. It's impossible, actually, isn't it? Or is that just an excuse for my insufficiencies?

Thank goodness I'll have my series producer, Lori Halloran, to talk to when I get to KQED this morning. She has a way of calming me down (to the extent that that's humanly possible) and breaking down my tasks into manageable-seeming portions. (I wonder if I could get her to help me organize my chaotic desk area here in my apartment? Nah, probably that would be pushing it.)

3 comments September 9th, 2005

My First Post!

Hello, there -- and welcome to my blog!

I am sitting in my feng-shui-deprived cubicle area at KQED, typing at a computer that I don't quite understand (being a Mac guy usually). Adding to the immediacy of the moment, I have KQED's glorious web queen, Colleen Wilson, looking over my shoulder at this very moment. (But I would say only nice things about her even if she weren't here. Really.)

In this space, I'll be keeping you abreast of the various things that are happening to me as I enter this new phase of my life, as a TV-show host. You know, my wife, Sara, is a schoolteacher, and right after I got this job she happened to see a newspaper article with the results of a poll in which people were asked whom they trusted the most. "Teacher" came in first or second. Last: "talk show host." (I'll try to find the actual link when I have the time.)

If the image of my new profession doesn't improve real soon, I may try something more honorable, like politics. But for now, I'm thrilled to be here.

P.S.: Colleen just politely fixed a typo of mine a couple of sentences up. As a former copy editor, I'm mortified.

11 comments September 8th, 2005

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