A conversational podcast about people and how they make their way in the world. Tangents often include why people think the world is the way it is, the root causes of things and what we can change about it. Topics cover philosophy, politics, religion, society, art, music, technology and, ultimately, mortality. Brian Parra rants about his Humanist worldview, liberal politics, spiritual quandaries, cultural fascinations and wacky ideas.
If you have a topic you'd like me to address or would like to join me on this podcast for a free form conversation that will be mostly about you and what you're into, contact me here. I'm willing to review your art, music, or discuss your work or passion.
I kick off a new year (Second season, Dan!) with a conversation with songwriter and musician Kris Simeon. Kris has been playing around the Southland for many years and used to play in the rock band Spartacus, a regular booking on my Blackbird shows. Kris has been playing music ever since solo and in various projects around town. We talk about songwriting and how music works cathartically to heal painful wounds. Kris plays a few tunes and lets me jam with him on harmonica. Well, I try. The conversation starts at 11:30. I rant about whether it's cool to punch Nazis. If you like this show, please consider supporting me for $1 per episode on Patreon.com/TNT2E.
Ventura is a very small town, and sometimes you meet people whom you realize you have a ton of connections with and such is the case of Jesse Armitage. Jesse is the Educational Director of The Ventura Improv Company, which is hosting the Ventura Improv Festival this weekend. We know like a million of the same people and yet, have never spoken before the conversation presented here. We talk about improv and comedy and how they have influenced each other. I reminisce about the Livery Theater back in the day and Jesse admits to finding all sorts of evidence of the punk rock shows we did there. I reexamine an embarrassing incident that turned me off to improv in college and Jesse tries to fire me from a job screwing wooden handles into plungers. I neglect to warn everyone about the suicide triggers contained herein. Our conversation starts at 8:10. I rant about Ted losing faith in the tooth fairy.
I have a conversation with photographer and long time friend, Sarah Alvarado. She's a graduate of Brooks Institute, which recently shuttered its campus in Ventura and had been shooting the devastating Blue Cut Fire in the High Desert, so I thought it would be an opportune time to check in with her to pick her brain about current events. We talk about her chosen profession and how she deals emotionally with the stress of the job and encountering people on the worst day of their lives. We chat about old times, Jack and Cokes, and she refers to me in the third person at least twice. We reminisce about the impact of "Brookies" on the Ventura music scene. I marvel at Sarah's need for adrenaline, and she admits to turning into a cranky old lady yelling at kids to get off her lawn. I, once again, sing the praises of Periscope. Our conversation starts at 17:07. I rant about Rush Limbaugh, The Dead Milkmen, and what the Queers are doing to the soil.
I love the Twitter account @GodsPlanDaily. Here is the premise: If God is the author of everything that happens, he must be responsible for some of the most unfortunate days and bad ends met by the people of this earth. @GodsPlanDaily reveals God's plan for some unfortunate person each day. Is your fate laid out in today's tweet? You'd better hope not. It's a dark and hilarious voyage into the mayhem and chaos that is everyday life for some poor soul, somewhere on earth. I've been a fan of this twitter account for a while and check back from time to time to make sure I don't miss a single one. I reached out to the anonymous author of this account to find Tim, a school teacher from Texas who takes the task of speaking for God very seriously and who doesn't seem to think much of being at the helm of a Twitter account with 42k followers. We talk about the inspiration for the tweets and his view of religion as expressed by them. We talk about having kids, making music, and his background growing up in a religious family. Our conversation starts at 11:20. I rant about my daughter's first day at Kindergarten and she tells me some terrible jokes.
I have a conversation with Chris Jay and Aaron Goldberg, writers, and co-producers of the new comedy The Bet available now on all VOD platforms. Chris and Aaron are long-time friends of mine and members of the long-lived Ventura band The Army of Freshmen. We talk about how two music guys ended up writing a movie and pulling every favor they could to produce and shoot it in Ventura, with tons of Ventura locals in the background (My children and I included.) We talk about Ron Jeremy's crocs, sexy nuns, and when to put boobies into your movie. I ask how they managed to hustle their way into Hollywood. We talk music, creativity, and hitting up one's parents for cash. Chris alludes to an alternate universe where Army of Freshmen is famous. Aaron weighs in the importance of casting hot chicks. Our conversation starts at (10:40) I rant about how I learned that nobody gives a fuck about your list of grievances.
I have a conversation with Michael Sullivan, editor of the VCReporter, Ventura County's source for weekly news, entertainment, and local politics. Michael has been at the creative helm of the free weekly for eight years, the longest serving editor, and I take this opportunity to ask her about running the paper, dealing with the public and responding to critics. Michael, a Ventura native, bounced around the country and ended up in pursuing journalism at the encouragement of her mother. She landed back in VC and just happened to be at the right place and time to apply for the recently open position of editor at the paper. We talk about local politics and the woes of the Oxnard Police Department. Michael recounts reaching out to mentor at-risk youth, and I wonder aloud if gangs are in fact more stable, loving environments for youth than ending up in the foster system. Michael answers my questions about raising her son as a single mother and surviving cancer. I rant about my week away from national politics volunteering for Camp Quest West, and I officially endorse a candidate for president with an analogy about a man on a diet stuck at a buffet that only serves bacon cheeseburgers and dog shit. Vote for There's No Time to Explain in the Talk category at VenturaCountyMusicAwards.com.
Jason Amelio, my guest from TNT2E #10, returns for another far-ranging conversation about anything that happens to come up. Jason is a member of The Velveteen Band, voicing the puppet Foe the Destroyer, and author of the urban fantasy novel, Jake Swift: Knight. Given the intense character of national news in the last few days, I really felt like bouncing some ideas about current events off someone and Jason was the perfect guy. We talk about Steam Punk and the origins of Goth, and what the relationship is between subcultures that seek to find identity in some older version of values and practices. We talk about cooking on cast iron and why cemeteries are the best places to be a delinquent. Jason admits to playing Pokemon GO, and we talk shit about people who talk shit about Pokemon GO. We discuss the case the Dylan Noble, the police shooting victim you haven't heard about in the news, and we discuss the many issues that may be the root of America's policing problem these days. I propose that our sanitized politically correct culture is the reason we completely missed all the racist people who still exist in America and voted for Trump and Jason passionately defends Hillary Clinton and talks about his girl-on-girl political dream. I suggest Berners are falling into his Cult of Personality and Jason says you all should listen to the German 12-member operatic metal band Avantasia. I rant about the reasons why Dylan Noble's death hasn't been a national news story. If you like this podcast, consider voting for it in the Talk category in the 2016 Ventura County Music Awards. Fill out an online ballot at VenturaCountyMusicAwards.com.
I have a conversation with Stephen DeBaun, known to me as the Reverend Stevo, a community activist and founder of the Sparks Network, a platform to connect volunteers with events and organizations. We discuss the ins and outs of his company and how he hopes to shape the face of volunteering, enabling our natural desire to help out which hasn't been served well by technology up to this point. Stevo and I chat about Karaoke, accordions, and alcoholic root beer. He talks about the importance of local politics and his experience being involved in the Occupy Movement in Ventura and the Westside Community Council. I wax poetic about the value of volunteerism and talk crap about goddamn Liberals. I rant about the Six Flags Flash Pass and attempt to do the math on how much time a general admission rider waits in line on behalf of people who skip to the front of the line with a Flash Pass.
I have a conversation with Rich Kleckner, who decided 6 months ago to start dressing as a woman full time. We discuss his lifelong proclivity to cross-dress and how he has dealt with the social stigma of being a stranger to the straight community and the gay community. We talk through the various terms people use to describe him and how he has found a very small community of like-minded cross-dressers who has given him insight into his obsession. We discuss cross-dressing in pop culture and world cultures. I mention the various spectra that gender identity and sexuality exists and we inventory Rich's answers to where he fits on the Genderbread Man, a graphic from ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com. Of course, no discussion about a man in a dress these days can be complete without answering the most important question in the world, apparently: Which bathroom does Rich use? I rant about the media's incuriosity about Michael Steven Stanford's failed attempt to assassinate Donald Trump.
My wife Victoria asked me if she could interview me and I said, "Of course!" My lovely wife of nearly ten years is an obsessive planner and notoriously unadventurous eater. She created a "Wheel of Brian Parra" to select topics for me to discuss. I talk about our domestic life, my obsession with Judge John Hodgman, and how I'm willing to perform self-surgery. Vic asks me to discuss how I came to be so well dressed and why I binge watch TV Shows. We discuss TV shows that are too close to our everyday lives to be watchable for us. I wonder aloud if I might be a Gladwellian super connector. We discuss whether it's possible to rekindle friendships with childhood friends and if it's weird that I go see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2:Out of the Shadows with "The Guys" (It's not.) We talk about White vs. Mexican families and I recount the time we ate hot dogs for Christmas. I explain why I'm NOT moving to Tennessee to climb the corporate ladder. We drink wine. She triggers my stutter and my, "UHHHHHHs." We discuss the drag cruises we've been on together and what I expected to happen as a straight man on a gay cruise. I address the shooting at Pulse Night Club and explain why I'm so passionate about speaking out about this issue. I pay tribute to Edward Sotomayor Jr., who lost his life in Orlando. Victoria and I met him aboard the Drag Queen cruises we attended and held him in high esteem.
I have a conversation with Neil Polzin, a board member for Camp Quest, Inc. and camp director for the Southern California session of Camp Quest West, a secular summer camp for kids of nonreligious families. He just returned from the Reason Rally in Washington D.C., a rally promoting reason and freethought to our nation's law makers. Neil spent a few days lobbying his congressional representatives about real sex education to counter abstinence-only education and talking to people about Camp Quest. We unpack all his experiences from his trip day by day where at one point, he nearly shared a stage with the Wu-Tang Clan, in front of a crowd of ten thousand. I ask Neil about his experience being ousted from the Boy Scouts when he admitted to being an atheist. I rant about my podcast post on the TNT2E Facebook page being targeted by trolls working for Donald Trump.
I attended the rally for Bernie Sanders on the campus of Ventura College on May 26, 2016. A Democratic presidential primary rally is a rare sight in California, and I was very excited to attend my first. I recorded conversations I had with 23 amazing people I ran into all day long and present them here. Some were good friends; some were casual acquaintances; some were complete strangers; all were fucking bad ass. All day long I was confronted with passion, enthusiasm and genuine concern for the future of our nation. I start the day off connecting with Lisa Bean AKA Boh Nellis, a previous guest on this podcast and talk to members of her entourage.
I have a conversation with artist Travis Shorey. Travis draws and paints three-eyed monsters and geek-culture characters engaged in mostly eating tacos and drinking beer. His colorful painting can be seen on his Facebook page, Jankety Arts. Travis is a huge fan of beer, and I delight in going through his beer inventory in Brewbacca, his beer-toting Chewbacca backpack. Over the course of nearly three hours, we cover various topics as censorship in art, Randy Newman dropping the N-word, the Savior of Rock and Roll, who is obviously Bruno Mars, and whether Travis has ever been too drunk to fuck.
I have a conversation with Robert Lindsay, a competitor on the SYFY Network’s movie FX and makeup reality competition show, Face Off. My family is a huge fan of this show; we'd watch it together, and Robert was our favorite contestant this past season. He was such an entertaining contestant and his work on the show was always zany and out of the box. We talk about how he was raised on Disney films and why he had to seek out original versions of horror films due to German censorship. We chat about the quirks of American’s contradictory attitudes about sex and how it compares with German attitudes toward violence. We get behind the scenes of reality television and discuss how the show distorts the real nature of the FX makeup profession. Robert admits to a “Fuck it” moment that led to his elimination as one of the final six competitors. I call out Glenn Hetrick on his clothing choices. We discuss what has happens after the show ends and how he is parlaying his appearance into success. Robert raves about the Turkish remake of Star Wars and the fan trailer he’s making for it and speaks his mind about the scourge of bad CGI in movies and whatever is up with der Weinerschnitzel. I take something back I said in the last episode and rant about how we learn gender roles and why I’m confused about how the rest of the world sees them. I reduce humanity to meat bags stretched across calcium scaffolding.