Podcast Premier!

Writer's Storm


The premier of The Spaghetti Junction Podcast has finally arrived, and I am excited to begin working on it in earnest.

I have written short stories, screenplays, and one novel, most of which do not satisfy me in any way. The process is satisfying; but, that’s not entirely enough. Yes, yes, yes… I know the process is what matters. I understand fully the ethic of expressing wherein the fulfillment is in the process. The theory even makes sense.

Feedback is something that is essential, too. For that reason, I have also embarked upon a podcast of social and political journaling under the title of The Spaghetti Junction Podcast. The intertwining of politics, sports, and the arts is a messy place; but, one that needs observation and comment. I shall publish an episode each week on the intersection of politics, sports, and arts. I hope to stretch my writing experience in a meaningful way, in addition to exorcising my own demons in this chaotic atmosphere of late.

In addition to the podcast on line, I shall also post a transcript of each episode. You can listen to the podcast at this link: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/rodney-harter1/episodes/2017-07-11T08_51_44-07_00

Episode #1 follows:



ROD: The Spaghetti Junction Podcast…!


ROD: Welcome to Spaghetti Junction — At the intersection of everything; because, today, that’s how life is. Often messy… confusing, off-putting, and contradictory. My name is R.E. Harter, and I’ll be your host, asking questions at the messy intersection of life, art, sports, and politics: The Spaghetti Junction Podcast.


H.L. Mencken described conscience as an inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking. Think of me as your inner voice at Spaghetti Junction. Episode #1 poses three questions. First, Is bias a fake story? Secondly, why must we listen so hard to movies? And finally, What has happened to the heart of sports?



There is an obsession among people today for bias, that scary little monster hiding under every journalist’s computer, ready to skew the tone and quality of an article toward a predetermined end. Bias entered my world with the expression *a right-wing media bias*, True on some levels. The argument goes as follows: Mainstream media sees the world through glasses bearing a left-leaning prescription, and news-opinion is skewed to favor positions on the left. Mainstream media marginalizes and discards the right, allowing no fair play on the media stage for competing thought.

Bias today is easily seen in the framing of news stories describing the chaos swirling around Trump. I have showed a personal bias by describing the Trump White House as “…in chaos.” Multiple examples of bias on both sides of the political spectrum are available by scanning headlines — or the absence of stories about certain events. Headlines are revealing by how titles frame the story: Ivanka Trump Is Not Happy; Everyone Gets One Scoop of Ice Cream; But, Donald Gets Two… Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite, Sixty Minutes, and Ted Koppel. Reporters during the afore mentioned era based their reporting upon fact and not ideology. Still, the prevalent cry of media bias today is strong and repeated ad nauseam — again, another bias! Do you see how easy it is?

But, everyone has one — or more — such biases. French Vanilla ice cream is a strong bias for this writer; yet, some people will not walk across the street for a free dish of French Vanilla. Biases exist in a variety of forms for a variety of things, tastes, preferences, and other items of choice.

But, critical thinking should not stop with identifying biases as a basis for discounting certain reporting; rather, we should focus on the source of this bias. What generates bias is more valuable as a reference point for discussion and possible consensus. Public opinion often discounts the why because the writer intends to discard all criticism as bias, rather than discover the truth. Bias for key lime pie should be universal as should a bias for the LA Dodgers.

Not all biases originate in dishonesty. A Dodger bias is beyond reproach.

A bias against capital punishment is very reasonable when considering the number of innocent convicts sent to death row — which seems to have little impact as a deterrent. A bias against abortion is justified by some on the basis of religious beliefs. This writer believes there is no justification for killing other than self-defense. The exposed context frames the real argument. Context matters.

Consider this context: The U.S. constitutional fabric contains a wrinkle called separation of church and state; but, the same wrinkle appears to be viewed as separation of churches – other than mine — and state. We brag about a melting pot because we have no relatable experience for assimilation. Ask first generation Irish, German, or Italian immigrants — if you can find them — about the real struggle for assimilation.

Recently, an article appeared recounting the commencement address President Trump made to the Navel Academy graduates. The Commander-in-chief claimed that no president in history has been so maligned and treated unfairly by the press. The facts are unassailable: a tsunami of bad press during this slightly more than a hundred days in office overwhelmed Trump’s administration. The context, however, is important.

Lies, distortions, changing stories, impulsive and unstable, obstructive behavior have all contributed to an impassioned scrutiny by the press. He deserves all of the attention, He is a one-man wrecking ball, stirring controversy and spreading distrust for America among the world’s leaders. The context is littered with Trump faux pas of his own making. No one decided that the strategy would be to lock arms and block anything the President attempts to do. Trump’s actions, and words, have raised serious concerns about his temperament and suitability for the job, in addition to a general lack of understanding how government works. He has no interest in the details of governance, nor the capacity to discover any major themes or ideas. He thinks he is the CEO of a large company, ordering whatever he wants done, and expecting results. If there is a problem, he is not above the back room deal of scratching a back for a reciprocal action. That’s not how government works.

This is not liberal mainstream media bias! A special prosecutor has been named – this is serious.

The right chastised Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf in Muslim countries, neither did the Trump ladies. The right screamed loudly because Obama refused to say Islamic Terrorism; neither did Trump. The President slammed Obama for his golfing vacations away from the White House; Trump has out spent Obama’s two terms in less than 200 hundred days! Republicans claim Obamacare is collapsing from its own weight; in reality, there are issues because Congress refuses to implement funding as designed. Republican states have balked at using the extended Medicaid funds or Medicare. Think of it in this fashion: you have a stool that will support your weight; you don’t like that it will support your weight, so you cut off one of the legs and then claim its a poorly designed stool! Republican attempts to limit voter registration among minorities has been overturned by the Supreme Court. These are inconvenient facts, not fake stories. We live in a world where ideology trumps facts. The NY Times has uncovered fake stories planted by the Trump Administration in an attempt to prove susceptibility to fake news; neither NY Times, CNN, nor Washington Post have fallen for the tactic. They vet their stories.

A local columnist here advised Trump to use a strategy often used in civil courts: Even if your story is true, you have nothing on me.” True, we don’t have that understanding now; but, a special investigation has been named because there is enough smoke to warrant a deep look. Let’s follow the money.

How do you and I manage our daily lives while this chaos swirls about? While our country is led by a man-child who has no capacity for details of governance, and only the the most shallow understanding of history? We have to pay attention; stay in touch with our Representatives and Senators. We have little history of such diligence, since much of our electorate is apathetic.

Bottom line: We have less to fear from nuclear madmen than the fact that information in this internet age has been weaponized against the weakest link of our democracy — our average citizen, poorly educated, and poorly informed on issues that matter. It all goes back to our schools – and Betsy DeVos has no clue.


Rod: Discovery is a remarkable thing. Learning something new energizes our mind and body in ways that are profoundly healthy! Recently, I made a discovery that makes my spirit rise somewhere over the rainbow! You laugh!

I have spent many years working in the theater, a cultural phenomenon that has enjoyed a remarkable history, as well as troubling times. Regardless of the times, the essential demand that an actor must be seen and heard has not changed. Movies and made for television films, or extended series do not seem to follow that essential core quality, especially where dialogue is concerned.

Frequently, there are stretches of dialogue that escape my ears entirely, an unhappy situation that I tried to attribute to my advancing age. Until recently…

I began rewatching movies from thirties through to the sixties and discovered that I missed nothing at all! I heard every word! Certainly our modern technology has not caused us to lose intelligibility!

I am old enough to remember the laments over Marlon Brando and his mumbling in On The Waterfront, or Streetcar Named Desire. An acquaintance who witnessed his Broadway performance in Streetcar said, “It was mesmerizing; I could almost smell the baloney on his breath.”

I have revisited Streetcar and heard everything.

We’re on dangerous ground when realism comes to mean unintelligibility because that’s the way life is. There’s enough unintelligibility in our daily lives now, we do not need to encourage more- especially in our story-telling — unless that’s the thrust of the story. Words matter; they have impact on us, and the people around us — our children!

Recently, President Trump described the Manchester bombing as perpetrated by losers. Losers. I would hope our leaders have the capacity to inspire us, not incite us with bullying rhetoric commonly found on a playground. Name calling during the primary campaign distressed me greatly: Crooked, Low-energy, Lying, Pocahontas, and more…

Words matter, and I would hope our movie makers realize that their story-telling is not enhanced by an inability to communicate.

An old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Homes movie absolutely enchanted me with its stage speech and perfect diction. If that means I’m old; so be it…


The current sports world is awash in bigger, faster, stronger; and that
s also true of our world in general. I sometimes wonder if the heart of the games isn’t diluted by skills we don’t really appreciate or understand. The natural urge for a competitive edge has led us far afield from natural development. Science has given us drugs and supplements that perform miracles on our body. I recently read of one supplement that will give you a ripped physique and it doesn’t require that you go to the gym! Competitive sports? I don’t think so.

Baseball was always an event of gamesmanship and strategy. Can you hit it where they aren’t? Oh, pitchers were not slow, nor did they always pitch safely. We know also, that many pushed the envelope of legality by scuffing the surface of the ball or adding something extra to it – spit! Among other things. This gamesmanship added to the lore of Baseball popularity. We appreciated this imaginative resourcefulness because it didn’t change the player, it was part of the competitive game.

Football has always been violent, but somehow rugby has escaped the troublesome physical dilemma of modern football. And rugby players don’t wear pads and helmets! Football appealed to our interest with multiple options and simultaneous events with some demanding physical strength required. In this current era of bigger, faster, and stronger, the speed and size is lethal! Players are beginning to retire at an early age because they don’t want to be a mental vegetable at age 50. Admittedly, I have no real appreciation for the speed and size of the game today, compared with the physically challenging game of my youth. I marvel more at the athlete’s willingness to put himself at risk than his specialized skills. Beast mode sums up the attitude.

The spacing and ball movement of the Warriors reminds me more of the basketball I played everyday after school. Again, bigger, faster, stronger, has changed the game. I Turned on television to watch an NBA playoff game, and a game of rugby broke out. Stop me if you can, at the rim. Physical intimidation is a large part of the game, a large part of our world.

We need a competitive spirit that we can appreciate and understand. In 1963, Warren Spahn faced Juan Marichal in a sixteening inning scoreless duel. After the thirteenth inning of this scoreless game, Manager Alvin Dark asked the 25-year old Marichal if he had had enough. Cepeda remembered Marichal barking at Dark, “A 42-year-old man is still pitching. I can’t come out!”

The spirit of the game. How do we preserve it and keep it fascinating? The competitive spirit must be maintained between players, not by adding scientific enhancement. Spahn’s gut spirit against the gut spirit of Marichal, no chemical enhancement, no equipment advantage, just two men competing.

The intimidation factor of many games today reflects an unhealthy intimidation element within our social fabric. It’s not enough to be better, we must trash our opponent, destroy him, in order to really win. We see this carried over into politics…

It’s a messy place, this Spaghetti Junction. But, it’s all we have, and our attention must be focused on how it all relates, if we want to keep it all!

This has been Spaghetti Junction. Thank you for joining us. Special thanks to Podomatic, Audiojungle and music ideas, and also to Austin and the guys at Composite Creative. CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE AND BLOG AT REHARTER.COM – THE WRITER’S STORM…

I’m R.E. Harter, for The Spaghetti Junction Podcast…