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Outrageous Podcasts

April 30, 2024

Napoleon - the film. When history and entertainment clash.

The Ridley Scott- directed film “Napoleon” is a big film. Big battle scenes.  Moscow going up in flames. Napoleon facing down his detractors. The over-the-top coronation of the emperor. But according to the noted Oxford Napoleonic historian, Michael Broers, the film’s emphasis on Napoleon’s relationship with Josephine is as important as those other “big” elements. Broers, who acted as film consultant for Scott, says the director was correct to focus on the relationship because it was the most important part of Napoleon’s personal life. Listen in as Michael Broers discusses reaction to the film and Napoleon’s fateful decisions.

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January 29, 2024

Surfing the Time Capsule: Are architects doomed for tragedy?

Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudí , Adolf Loos, Louis Sullivan; why were their lives such a mess?
Maybe it’s the Jekyll and Hyde conundrum. In this episode of Surfing the Time Capsule, we’ll take a look at this puzzling condition that seems to bedevil some architects.

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January 17, 2024

Surfing the Time Capsule - Buying up the brightest stars in the art universe

Is the Leonardo da Vinci’s painting entitled “Salvator Mundi” worth almost half a billion dollars? For Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, that’s chump change. Join journalist Ernest Granson as he examines the motivation behind the astronomical values of the world’s most expensive paintings.

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July 28, 2023

Surfing the Time Capsule - John Dean cushions his behind in Poshinaya foam; John Galt slams volunteerism

Was Richard Nixon really a snivelling crook? Was Ayn Rand really a condescending, selfish snob? In this initial episode of Surfing the Time Capsule from Outrageous History, journalist Ernest Granson suggests that the two notorious personalities shared a common attribute – greed. You would think their colleagues and followers would consider that would be an undesirable trait, but turns out, colleagues and followers share the same belief.

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July 12, 2023

Leonardo's Salvator Mundi - The Bargain of the Millenium

In 2017, a painting of Jesus Christ holding a crystal orb became the world’s most expensive painting when Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) paid $450 million for the piece which was auctioned off by Christie’s in London. MBS purchased the painting based on its attribution to the Renaissance painter and all- around-genius, Leonardo da Vinci. But did Leonardo actually paint this picture? Maybe, maybe not.Authenticating Old Masters paintings is not a perfect science, especially if 500 years of the painting’s history is missing. Through exhastive research, art critic, documentary film maker and visiting fellow at the Warburg Institute in London, Ben Lewis, has tracked down its complicated journey. In his book, “The Last Leonardo – The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting”, he not only discusses the Salvator Mundi but he exposes the questionable world of the upscale art market, a world that operates mainly in secret and, in many respects, at arm’s length from actual art itself. Join journalist Ernest Granson in conversation with Ben Lewis.

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May 24, 2023

The Evolution of Spin

Propaganda, publicity, public relations, spin. These words are really interchangeable but for many, they all evoke somewhat negative connotations. For politicians, the presidents of the United States especially, that’s a problem. From the publicity-hungry Theodore Roosevelt to the media-obsessed Richard Nixon to the “no-spin” Barrack Obama, the chief executives have sought to put the appropriate spin on their message to the American people. Listen in as Ernest Granson interviews Rutgers journalism professor, David Greenberg and author of “The Republic of Spin; An Inside History of the American Presidency.”

 

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May 8, 2023

We are the real monsters!

The Anglo-Saxons of pre-England  Britannia lived in a world of real monsters where walking through the unsettled areas outside of town could mean being scorched by dragons or gobbled up by terrifying, giant humanoids. Were these monsters real and why were the medieval Anglo-Saxons so fearful of them? Join journalist Ernest Granson as his guest, author and historian, Tim Flight, examines the powerful forces that not only helped to shape the lives of these proto-Britons but that play a significant role in our contemporary world.

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February 1, 2023

The van Gogh You Never Knew

Imagine becoming a young widow with a baby boy and being entrusted with the priceless legacy of one of the world’s most famous painters. That is the situation in which Johanna van Gogh-Bonger found herself when her beloved husband of only two years passed away. That husband was Theo van Gogh, brother of Vincent van Gogh. The two brothers died within a year of each other leaving Johanna or Jo, as she was known, to assume the responsibility of exposing the world to Vincent’s ground breaking, post-Impressionist paintings. Jo was not an art dealer and Vincent’s paintings had yet to attain their legendary status. Yet, through her perseverance she achieved this. Hans Luitgen, a Senior Researcher at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam felt compelled to tell her story. He recently published her biography –  “Jo van Gogh-Bonger: The Woman Who Made Vincent Famous.”  Join him in conversation from Amsterdam with journalist Ernest Granson on Outrageous History!

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January 19, 2023

The Ambiguity of Stan Lee

Just who was Stanley Martin Lieber – or as millions of superhero fans know him – Stan Lee? Sure, Stan Lee has been credited by those fans as the creator of Spiderman, The Avengers, The X Men and a whole universe of superheroes that dominate not only the comic book industry but to a large extent, the film industry. He was a writer, a self-promoter, a husband, a father and considered himself “a true believer,” in the Marvel universe. But there is so much more to the life of Stan Lee, and unfortunately, much of it did not live up to his public persona. Join journalist Ernest Granson in conversation with writer and author, Abraham Josephine Reisman as they discuss Abraham’s controversial biography of the comic book god, “True Believer: the Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.”

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August 1, 2022

The last man who might know all there is to be known

Could there be such a person? That is how scientist J.B.S. Haldane has been described. He is credited with laying the foundations of genetics but his knowledge spanned far beyond that and until he passed away he constantly strove to inform the public about all aspects of science. Some of his knowledge he gained through self-experimentation, for instance, drinking hydrochlolic acid and breathing in carbon dioxide.  But it wasn’t science alone for which he was known. As an avowed British Communist Party member and buoyed by his bulldog-like personality, Haldane stirred up controversy as he publicly skewered British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for his attempts to placate Adolph Hitler. Join Ernest Granson as he discusses Haldane’s amazing life and career with journalist Samanth Subramanian, and author of “A Dominant Character – The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J.B.S. Haldane”.

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July 19, 2022

Martha Was Right

The Watergate scandal in the 1970s turned U.S. politics upside down, creating skepticism, cynicism and pessimism throughout the country. For those involved in both the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at Washington D.C.’s Watergate hotel/apartment complex and the burglary coverup, it meant jail time and a loss of reputation. For southern socialite Martha Mitchell , wife of John Mitchell, President Richard Nixon’s Attorney General and campaign manager for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, it became a nightmare. Painted as a neurotic alcohol and pill addict, Martha, nevertheless, stood firm in her insistence that the highest levels of the White House were embroiled in the scandal. Fifty years after the scandal became exposed, producer Robbie Pickering brings Martha’s story to life in his production of “Gaslit.” Listen in as Robbie explains why he felt the necessity to set the record straight.

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July 5, 2022

John Galt Lives!

The life story of Ayn Rand reads much like one of her block buster novels, except for the unhappy ending. In “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”, the main female and male characters, one of whom is John Galt, become heroines and heroes, rhapsodizing with spectacular literary, political and philosophical statements. In real life, Ayn Rand, the queen of extreme capitalism, passed away with lung cancer while surviving on social assistance. But, according to Lisa Duggan, a professor at New York University and author of “Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and Neoliberal Greed”, Rand’s cultural and political influence should not be dismissed. Her ideologies continue to have a global impact to this present day.

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June 13, 2022

The Vengeance of the Shot Blue Marilyn

Art dealer and former gallery owner, Richard Polsky, spent a career trying to become the owner of an Andy Warhol silk screen. As a passionate admirer of Warhol’s works, Richard eventually achieved his goal of purchasing, not one but two pieces at separate times. But circumstances resulted in his move to sell both. Although he always believed in a growing monetary value of Warhol’s pieces, little did Richard realize just how much that value would sky rocket into the stratosphere. Richard Polsky and journalist Ernest Granson discuss magnetic appeal of Warhol and the eccentric world of the art market.

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April 27, 2022

The Bricklin: automotive fantasy or lost opportunity for prosperity?

When American automotive entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin and the Province of New Brunswick’s Premier Richard Hatfield sat down for coffee at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton in 1973, little did they realize the bumpy road they would soon ride together. At that meeting, Bricklin, ever the salesman, convinced Hatfield to commit to a joint venture between the province and Bricklin’s company to manufacture a futuristic, cutting edge, high-performance sports car in New Brunswick. It wasn’t that Hatfield had been swindled. If anything, Hatfield was just as enthusiastic as Bricklin about the proposal. Both men had put their reputation on the line and both, eventually, paid the price. University of Toronto history professor, Dimitry Anastakis, who is researching and writing a history of the Bricklin, takes us through the fascinating adventure of the Bricklin SV-1.

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April 7, 2022

The Peculiar World of Prime Minister Mackenzie King

If you’re taking part in contemporary politics, you had better board up your closet to prevent any skeletons from being revealed. It wasn’t necessarily so 100 years ago. The private lives of politicians, were for the most part, kept private, even by publicity-seeking media outlets. If that weren’t the case, then the  longest serving Canadian prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, would surely have been ridiculed and harassed to death. His voluminous amount of diaries and personal files exposed not just the man’s eccentricities but certain practices like his belief that he could communicate with the dead. Even so, King is considered at the top of the list of shrewd Canadian politicians. Listen as award winning author and historian Allan Levine discusses King’s curious life with journalist Ernest Granson.

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March 22, 2022

Tsar Nicolas' Game of Russian Roulette

Russia’s Tsar Nicolas and his family died a gruesome death, executed by the Bolsheviks, after Nicolas was forced to abdicate after the Russian Revolution of 1917. King George V of Great Britain was Nicolas’ cousin and agonized over offering the Romanov family refuge in England. George never made that offer. The irony is that Nicolas and George were all part of Queen Victoria’s huge European royal family. In fact, she was known as “The Grandmother of Europe.” Author and historian Nancy Bilyeau explains the intricacies and destinies of these ruling families.

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February 14, 2022

The Scientist Explorer who Died a Viking's Death

Alfred Wegener’s life as a scientist in the early 1900s spanned numerous fields including astronomy and meteorology. But his theory of continental drift or displacement sparked a furor amongst geologists, many of whom branded him a scientific outsider, a reckless mischief maker ignorant of geological methods and given to wild speculations. As if that aspect of his life wasn’t controversial enough, Wegner was also a driven polar explorer, who died on top of a Greenland glacier and whose remains are still buried in the ice.  Mott Greene, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, & Society, for the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and author of “Alfred Wegener. Science,  Exploration, and the Theory of Continental Drift“, takes us through the remarkable life of Alfred Wegner.

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February 1, 2022

Maximilien Robespierre: Hero or Monster of the French Revolution?

The French Revolution is considered one of the most important events in the history of civilization. When it ended in the late 1700s, the feudal system, the French Catholic Church as it then existed and the French monarchy had been dismantled. For the French common people that was the upside. The downside: thousands of deaths by fighting and execution, betrayals and destruction. Much of that mayhem has been laid at the feet of smalltown lawyer, Maximilien Robespierre, a major figure of the revolution. But was it his fault? Listen as journalist Ernest Granson chats with Peter McPhee, professor emeritus at the University of Melbourne and the author of “Robespierre: a Revolutionary Life”


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December 8, 2021

The Movie Star President

In American politics, you could say that there have been two Presidents elected with movie star quality – one of them is Ronald Reagan, who parlayed his movie and television career into the highest office in the land. The other is a man who never actually had any role in a film. His name: John F. Kennedy.  But, as author John Hellmann writes in his book The Kennedy Obsession: The American Myth of JFK, “Never appearing in an actual film, but rather turning the television apparatus into his screen, he became the greatest movie star of the twentieth century.” Listen as Hellmann and journalist Ernest Granson discuss how Kennedy harnessed the media and the public’s fantasy to become a global superstar.

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December 1, 2021

The womanizing, gambling and boozing George, Prince of Wales, had one thing in mind in April of 1795 when he agreed to marry his smelly, stout and somewhat coarse first cousin, Caroline, Duchess of Brunswick – to pay off his £600,000 (US$74 million in today’s dollars) royal debt. George’s father, King George III, had agreed to pay down the debt if his insufferable heir would agree to marry a legitimate Protestant bride. It all seemed to be coming together – until the future groom and bride actually met each other. Disgust would be too weak a word to describe the reaction they had towards each other. From there on in, the relationship went downhill. Historian, author and royal expert, Leslie Carroll takes us through this obnoxious, but truly sad, story.

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November 24, 2021

Architect of Mayhem

Superstar architect Frank Lloyd Wright was as well known for his scandalous personal life as he was for his revolutionary architectural designs. Even Wright seemed to recognize he was a flawed man, but as biographer Paul Hendrickson argues, underneath Wright’s arrogance existed a “fundamental soulfulness” that resulted in some of the world’s most innovative structures. Hendrickson, Senior Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright” discusses the life of FLW with journalist Ernest Granson.

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July 28, 2021

Royals for Hire

We require a young, idealistic European royal couple to lead transition of Mexico from republic to monarchy. Experience living in Mexico not necessary. Some financing for military support is available. Please note, there is a high chance of violence during the transition as well as a substantial risk of death by firing squad. Please apply to Napoléon III, Emperor of France. For more information, listen to journalist Ernest Granson as he chats with M.M. McAllen, author of “Maximilian and Carlota: Europe’s Last Empire in Mexico.”

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July 20, 2021

Look Up - Look Way Up!

What were those strange lights zipping around Groom Lake at Area 51 through the 1950s, 70s, 80s and beyond? Millions have been mystified. Chances are they were produced by the most advanced aircraft in the world taking off from and landing at Groom Lake on experimental flights. And most of those aircraft were designed and developed by Kelly Johnson, a genius aeronautical engineer who headed the Lockheed Martin secret division, “Skunk Works.”Listen in as journalist Ernest Granson chats with Jay Millar, a Texas based aviation expert and photo journalist about this unique individual and organization. Jay’s book, “Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works” is the first and only official history of the Skunk Works. 

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June 28, 2021

Evil Roman Empire? Wait - Not So Fast!

The Romans were ruthless, right? That’s how the Roman Empire became the dominant nation of its time. Its military forces stomped on other states, its leaders set the bar for weirdness and deviance while its citizens thrived on bloodthirsty entertainment. And yet, the Romans were responsible for astonishing technological and cultural achievements. Outrageous History! enlists the help of historian and author, Dr. Jerry Toner, to explain the perplexity of this preindustrial society.

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July 14, 2021

From Vogue Model to Hitler's Bathtub

Lee Miller is considered of the top photographers of her time, not to mention one of the first supermodels. But she was also one of the original and restless “free spirits,” travelling the world, keeping company with celebrities and the avantgarde, mixing and matching numerous lovers, even becoming an award-winning chef. Yet it seemed as if she could not satisfy her restlessness. Listen in as Ernest and Burke discuss her revealing biography “Lee Miller – A Life”.

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June 21, 2021

A Big Game Hunter in over His Head

During the late 1800s, English big game hunter, William Baillie-Grohman concocted an outlandish scheme to dig a two kilometre long canal between the headwaters of the Mighty Columbia River and the Kootenay River at Canal Flats, British Columbia.

Or was it outlandish?

Journalist Ernest Granson and Tammy Hardwick, manager of the Creston & District Museum & Archives discuss Baillie-Grohman’s bizarre plan to divert water from the Kootenay into the Columbia by building a canal between the two rivers – with the consent of the Government of B.C. In the end, only three small boats managed to make it through the canal, the third becoming stuck and freed only with the help of dynamite.

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June 14, 2021

Searching for "The Dief"

John George Diefenbaker, or “the Dief”, as his supporters called him, is known as one of Canada’s most unforgettable and provocative Prime Ministers, serving as the country’s 13th leader in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a volatile period of Canadian history. Diefenbaker’s fiery campaign speeches and stinging political rebukes could strike fear in the hearts of opponents. During the early stages of his first term in government, he rode a huge wave of popularity. But the Dief was a political animal, a self-described lone wolf, and his obsession with politics eventually resulted in personal and career turmoil. Journalist Ernest Granson and historian, Arthur Milnes, explore this fascinating but perplexing character. 

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JUNE 07, 2021

The Importance of Being Oscar (Wilde)

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,” proclaimed Oscar Wilde. The writer and playwright died in 1900, but like other deceased celebrities, he’s become his own enterprise. But what is his celebrity legacy? Is he an influential literary figure, an important gay icon? What about someone who became a pioneering celebrity/personality who exploited the existing social platforms of the late 1800s?turned the art world upside down using “chiaroscuro,” a lighting technique that created dramatic contrasts of light and darkness in his paintings. He used peasants, prostitutes, the poor and other citizens of questionable repute, scandalizing his contemporaries. Graham-Dixon talks to Ernest about how Caravaggio’s story in his book, “Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane”, would be ideal for the big screen.

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May 31, 2021

Rabble Rouser? Criminal? Misunderstood Artist?

Before he died at the young age of 38 years,  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio turned the art world upside down using “chiaroscuro,” a lighting technique that created dramatic contrasts of light and darkness in his paintings. But that wasn’t all that captivated Italian church goers who ogled his religious works. As models, Caravaggio used peasants, prostitutes, the poor and other citizens of questionable repute, scandalizing his contemporaries. He scandalized too, in the way he lived and died.  Join Ernest Granson as he interviews Andrew Graham-Dixon, journalist, author and art critic, whose biography, “Caravaggio – A Life Sacred and Profane“, paints a picture of  a brilliant but troubled artist.

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May 24, 2021

The Deadliest Chemist

Sidney Gottlieb, born in the Bronx, New York, was a trained chemist who spent his career as one of the most secretive employees of the CIA. During the Cold War years, Gottlieb almost singlehandedly created MK-ULTRA, a program intended to research and develop the secret to mind control. Ernest chats with author Kinzer about Gottlieb and his book “Poisoner in Chief”.

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