Thin Air @ RRC Redux

by kipress

At the Thin Air event I attended at the University of Winnipeg, poet-luminaries Sina Queryas and George Murray talked about creating on-line communities to a professor-dotted room while a group of students waited outside for the panel to finish so they could come in and read from their own work. Something was horribly wrong with that picture

Lucky students at Red River College, then, who were required to attend these fine events.

Finkleman owes tuition to the swear jar

Firebrand of the week was Ken Finkleman, who tore a new blue streak through an almost hour-long rant on creativity, culture and the decline of the American empire, and was especially nasty to Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford. Yes, like a rock star, he forgot he was in Winnipeg. From drugs in Hollywood to Rilke and back, Finkleman’s message was clouded for many by his off-colour language, including repeated out-of-context references to female anatomy.

Did I mention it is Banned Book Week?

Scanlan is the antidote

Veteran journalist Lawrence Scanlan was the antidote to those antics with his no-nonsense recounting of his “year of living generously,” volunteering at twelve different community organizations over the course of a year. Scanlan added some slides to his stories so his audience could put faces to the names in his book. His presentation seemed more politicized than the book—maybe it was toned down by the publishing company?—as he urged students not to forget about political engagement, even as he prodded them to continue to volunteer.

He also gave away his computer bag and offered to “make a deal” on the books he’d brought for sale.

George Murray does look like the guy from Mythbusters

At least, my husband and I have been saying that ever since Mythbusters came on the air. So, full disclosure, George Murray and I go way back, even further back than Mythbusters, apparently.

Murray spoke about his busy, busy life, which only depressed me because it reminded me of all the work I have to do, too. By day, an arts-and-culture lobbyist, by night, a writer, during his lunchbreak, the founder and editor of, Murray tried to tie it all together: he’s a communicator. And in his aphorisms, he is trying to strip communication down to the barest nugget of clear insight.

What Murray forgot to mention was that his aphorisms have an app: look up the Glimpse app and bask in one aphorism a day. From there you can buy the e-book. I think it reads great on the little screen, if you are the kind who wants to consume the book aphorism by aphorism, back-of-the-toilet style.


So, three disparate readings by three disparate authors. They were impressed that students had read the books and had some great questions and comments. What did the readings have in common? Oddly, the fact that they hardly read anything from their books.