96 days until Trump’s fascist kakocracy is served its just desserts.


Tau ya Mariri on Twitter: "Which ANC? The ANC I grew up studying ...

Isn’t that a great word?

Kakocracy.

It’s Greek-derived and means a rule or government by the worst of people.

I assume its etymology is closely related to Caca (The Spanish word for shite): a shitocracy.

If Trump (a shite) is running (I use the word loosely) a government that is a kacocracy then he is running a government of shites.

And he is.

And they are.

America’s privileged elite: that want to reduce Unemployment Insurance Benefit from the current $400 a week to $200 a month. Saying, why should taxpayers carry the burden?

Well, because it’s taxpayers that need the support I’d say.

Anyway back to Trump’s kakocracy.

I’ve been listening to the highly entertaining Pod Save America for weeks now and it’s clear that they are part of the Democrats’ election machine, but the presenters wear their hearts on their sleeves so openly that it validates the appalling bias of their twice-weekly in-depth analysis of all things political in the USA.

It was here that I stumbled upon this wonderful word. A word that must have been created with Trump’s administration in mind because usually the denigration of governments stems from autocracy or even dictatorship.

But here we have a government fairly and democratically elected, now in a state of delusion, disarray and frankly, evil.

The USA does not deserve or need this shitshow, this freak show, this carnage.

So come 3rd November if the polls are reliable (Biden 8 points up) the kakocracy will be consigned to the cesspit of history.

A history lesson that will endure the ages, that will draw the question, “Mummy, Daddy what did you do during the war on decency?”

History teachers will have to reframe lessons, will need to pre-warn their students that this four-year period of American disintegration, when it became the laughing stock of the world, was for real, not a comedy interlude, a Shakesperean musical in the woods, a play within a play.

No. It was for real.

Yes, before he went to prison as an enemy of the state Mr Donald (person, woman, man, camera, TV) Trump was for actual real.

A barefaced, lying fascist scumbag who abused his citizens on the world stage, with only Altzheimers as his defence, while a sociopathic kacokracy looked on with daggers behind their backs waiting to absolve themselves from blame because they were only following the fuhrer’s orders.

That’s what a kakocracy is.

And it comes to an end in 96 days.

Breathe.

The Horror of Dolores Roach (Seasons 1 and 2): Podcast review


Show artwork for The Horror of Dolores Roach

This, the Sweeney Todd of Washington Heights, is delicious, if you get my drift.

Daphne Rubin-Vega originally wrote it as a one woman show and it’s been picked up by the excellent Gimlet and Bobby Cannavale added to the cast for both star quality and real quality. Both are superb actors.

It was written by Aaron Mark and it’s clear that he’s relished the challenge of firstly updating Sweeney Todd, placing it in a Puerto Rican context, and then driving full blown into cannibalism and full-frontal sex. Even if it’s all aural.

It’s bloody brilliant.

The story is ostensibly Sweeney but gathers momentum and ghoulishness as Mark realises his canvas is only as limited as his imagination. So it’s a big canvas.


In season two the Sweeney story is left behind and we move into new and expanded territory that keeps, just enough of this side of preposterous to let the listener go with it and revel in it’s dark humour (and boy, there’s plenty of that).

It took an episode for me to get into it as the first-person narrative threatened to stifle its potential, but once into its stride, with its cast of lowlife’s, ‘trannies’, drug dealers, murderers and ne’er-do-wells it relished its ability to transgress convention and get really quite icky.

Apparently it has been picked up for TV and that will make for interesting viewing.

I loved it. Alongside Homecoming the best fiction podcast I’ve listened to.

Tremendous.

The Missing Cryptoqueen: Podcast review


The great podcasts keep on coming. The seam is rich and golden and here’s another to indulge in.

This is a BBC publication about a Bulgarian businesswoman, Dr Ruja Ignatova, who persuaded millions to sign up to her rival to BitCoin, called OneCoin, reaping billions of pounds of illegal takings.

The trouble is, this crypto-currency has no blockchain and therefore cannot be spent anywhere.

It’s Fools’ Gold, and it’s worthless.

Then she disappeared.

Jamie Bartlett takes us through the story in double-quick time and leaves you gasping at Dr Ignatova’s bravado, ruthlessness and greed and the gullibility of the millions who fell for her classy veneer.

It’s pretty scary to be honest.

But it’s riveting and that’s why you should invest a few hours of your time listening to it.

Homecoming Seasons 1 and 2 on Amazon Prime: TV Review.


Watch Homecoming - Season 1 | Prime Video

Prime’s finest moment to date. IMHO.

They’ve taken Gimlet Media’s astounding podcast and adapted not one, but two, TV series from it.

In the first, Julia Roberts not only allegedly bought the rights but assumes the title role of Heidi Bergman, a case worker at a mysterious ‘facility’ in which homecoming American war veterans are treated for PTSD. Why? You’ll have to watch to find out.

I’m no Roberts fan and although her performance is good I’d like to have seen Catherine Keener take her aural role on-screen. Likewise, I think both Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer might have made better jobs of their roles than the TV replacements.

But that’s actually a quibble, because what we get is an excellent rendering of the story with outstanding direction, music and camerawork.

It’s an oddity, especially at its 20 minute length (echoing the podcast).

What the TV does, that adds value, is add the aforementioned production values to the already high quality that Gimlet achieved. The design, overall, is stunning; with a touch of the Kubricks.

But I’m left thinking, good as it is, a little was lost in the translation.

The same cannot be said of Season 2.

It’s now a significant diversion from the podcast.

We meet a new lead in Janelle Monae who plays Jackie (or is it Alex?) an employee of Geist (or is she), the company that administered (shadily) the ‘Homecoming’ initiative in Season 1.

She is almost literally lost at sea as the series opens. We have no idea who she is or how she got there, what’s more, neither does she.

This is a big ask for Monae who takes on her first lead role, to my knowledge, and has to rise to the challenge of carrying the series. I felt she was on the brink of failing the task at a few points, after all she’s a singer not an actor, but at each tipping point she just gets over the bar so that by the end I believe we enjoy a fine performance.

Steven James raises his game as Walter Cruz and his character gets much more rounded, but the real ‘find’ is Chris Cooper as Leonard Geist, the mill owner gone rogue, feeling overwhelmed by his own bastard creation.

Show-stealing, on an epic scale, is the filthy performance of Joan Cusack as (Officer) Bunda.

Season 2 shifts a gear. It’s even darker, it’s less familiar to us ‘Poddies’ and it’s found its TV voice. It just gets better and better.

The circular plot device means that nothing is clear until the very end of the final episode and that’s one of the reasons, the excellent Monae aside, that it makes such gripping viewing.

I loved it. More, more, more. Please.

Lost in Larrimah: Podcast Review


Lost in Larrimah

This was billed as Australia’s greatest ever podcast.

Presented by The Australian newspaper it tells the story of a septuagenarian who goes missing from an outback town in deepest central Oz.

It features a ‘cast’ of 11 characters – all residents of the ‘town’, an old railway outpost that has fallen into virtually a ghost town, and the local police officer.

The central, missing, figure is Paddy Moriarty, a mysterious oddball resident with a mildly dodgy past who simply ‘disappeared’ overnight with his dog, never to be seen again.

A writer, the presenter and journalist from The Australian, Kylie Stevenson, and her friend Caroline Graham, visit the town (Kylie had previously discovered it on a writing retreat) to try to piece together the mystery through a series of interviews with the residents who make up such a dysfunctional society as to resemble a war torn republic that is verging on anarchy.

The cast is oddball in the extreme. All ageing, all with their own grudges and vendettas, and all contributing to a story that is as weird as it is almost compelling.

I confess I didn’t really get enthralled by the story because it feels slight and a bit overstated, but I gradually grew into it and made it to the end.

It’s not a favourite and I have to say that if this is Australia’s ‘best’ I’d not like to endure its worst. But it becomes engaging to a point.

Would I recommend it? Not wholeheartedly, but it passes the time and its enthusiasm somewhat overcomes its lack of overall substance.

Dolly Parton’s America: Podcast review.


Dolly Parton's America : NPR

After my last two journeys into the dark side of the human condition this is the flip side.

Dolly Parton, sorry Saint Dolly Parton, is such an American dream and institution that it’s about time a tribute as glorious as this was created, whilst she’s still alive, fighting fit and full of vim and vigour.

This extended interview series with the queen of country charts her life and songbook but places it all in the context of an America that exists around her.

We hear much about American politics, religion and culture and how Dolly and her extensive business empire and philanthropy fits into the broader cultural mix.

It’s delightfully presented by fanboy Jad Abumrad and reported and produced by Shima Oliaee at WNYC Studios and OSM (awesome, get it?) Audio.

It’s a sheer delight from start to finish but touches on the darker side of Dolly’s life: her women’s rights attitude that has been in evidence since her earliest, surprisingly bleak output through to her refusal to air a view on Trump (half my fans are Republicans why would I state an opinion on this?)

I’ll predict now that Dolly WILL come out with a view on Trump, before the election, and it WILL NOT aid his cause. Because Dolly is a Bellwether. Her view can influence American opinion – nothing she says is ill-considered or trivial – apart from maybe her own self-deprecating boob gags.

This is uplifting entertainment with a serious undertow.

I highly recommend losing 8 or more hours in Dolly Parton’s America.

You will thank me.

Hunting Warhead: Podcast review.


Hunting Warhead | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

I’m almost afraid to tell you how much I ‘enjoyed’ this electrifying podcast, brought to you by CBC Podcasts and Norway’s VG newspaper.

It’s a truly hideous recounting of the search by VG’s top investigative journalist for the man behind the world’s most popular dark web peadophilia sites. Child abuse sites, not child porn sites.

It makes such uncomfortable listening that at times you actually have to switch off to regain your composure, so horrifying is the revelations it uncovers.

At its heart is journalism of the very highest order with two men, the journalist and a hacker, taking on what could have been an extremely dangerous assignment with thought only for the children being abused rather than their own personal safety.

This makes them heroes in my book.

what makes it so enthralling is that we meet and hear extensive interviews from Warhead himself, his victims’ families, his parents and the journalists and police that were involved in the search.

I have to warn you that it is extremely unsettling listening but the presenter, Daemon Fairless, does an extraordinary job of neither sensationalising, nor soft soaping the project.

This is world class ‘entertainment’ of the very highest order and if you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of real life sociopaths this is the listen for you.

Truly brilliant, and important. Pulitzer Prize winning stuff I’d say.

Dr. Death: Podcast review.


My first Wondery Podcast and an absolute peach.

This six parter tells the true story podcasts

of Dr Christopher Duntsch an American Neurosurgeon who is so incompetent that it’s inconceivable he’d ever get past first year in medical school, never mind freely operate on Spinal chord ailments in Texas, again and again and again, leaving a trail of destruction and, obviously, death behind him.

The story is a whydunnit? Why did he do what he did and more importantly why wasn’t he stopped.

It leaves medical practitionership in the US in an uncomfortable place. Ethics are clearly at a premium as money speaks louder than morality, but what really grips is the descriptions of what he did in horrifying detail.

If it wasn’t true you would think it a tad far fetched. But that’s what makes so many great podcasts so great.

Wind of change: Podcast review.


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Patrick Radden Keefe of the New Yorker wrote and presents the latest odyssey by Pineapple Street , Crooked Media and Spotify. it’s produced by Pineapple Street’s Henry Molofsky and it’s enthralling.

It’s a conspiracy theory story with unexpected depth and more rabbit holes than the disused railway line that sits across from my house.

The idea stems from a rumour that Radden Keefe heard from his friend, Michael, an ex-CIA undercover agent that The Scorpion’s global blockbuster hit, Wind of Change, was, wait for it, written by the CIA.

Follow The Moskwa down to Gorky Park, listening to the wind of change intones Klaus Meine the frontman of The Scorpions, better known for classics like “Another piece of meat’.

But Meine is not normally the songwriter, those duties are taken by the bands guitarist, so it’s surprising that their biggest hit is from their equivalent of Ringo.  It was huge, I mean mahoosive, all over the Easter Bloc.

It’s a beautiful ballad about change running through post Berlin Wall communist states (but written two months before its fall).

What this leads us on is a journey through CIA intervention in popular culture (Dr Zhivago, Satchmo, Nina Simone, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Argo) and sets up the hypothesis that the song, is, not for the first time, propaganda intended to foment insidious cultural unrest in the Eastern Bloc towards the end of the Cold War.

It brings in drug running and secret plea bargains.

(Even the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles get a namecheck.)

It’s fascinating.

It’s brilliantly scripted, narrated and produced.

It’s bonkers.

But is it true?

You’ll need to tune in to find out.

I’d recommend that you do just that.