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Bob Got a Microphone

Bob Got a Microphone

By Bob Tarantino
Conversations with interesting people.

Hosted by Bob Tarantino.
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Norman Bacal - "As an Author, That's What I'm After"

Bob Got a Microphone

Graham Henderson - The Radical Percy Bysshe Shelley
I find it compelling when someone is passionate about something – especially when they’re passionate about something that isn’t, you know, obvious. It’s not something they can monetize, it’s not something everyone else is talking about... it’s something that they’re bringing focused insight to in a way you would otherwise never think about. A few years ago I learned that Graham Henderson – previously a lawyer and music industry advocate – was really into Percy Bysshe Shelley, the romantic poet who died two hundred years ago this past July. And he’s passionate about surfacing aspects of Shelley’s art and politics in a way that is accessible and relevant to contemporary readers. We talk about poets as legislators of the world, the difficult conversations sons sometimes have with their fathers through art, what great art asks us to do, but mostly we talk about Shelley - the radical poet of empathy. You can read Graham's work on Shelley at
August 12, 2022
Michael Barclay - Hearts On Fire: Six Years That Changed Canadian Music
No one writes about Canadian music with more insight or elan than Michael Barclay - and he's just released the magisterial Hearts On Fire: Six Years that Changed Canadian Music 2000–2005. It's the authoritative story about how, in the early years of the new millennium, the world noticed that the musical artists coming out of Canada - from Arcade Fire to Tegan and Sara, from Broken Social Scene to Cadence Weapon and beyond - were, amazingly, incontrovertibly, and finally, cool. We talk about the the amazing diversity of musical talent on offer, the material conditions that made the phenomenon possible (including the role played by cheap real estate), the importance of killer live performances (and drummers!), and the role that late Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie played in bringing the book to fruition.  Hearts on Fire is available for sale now wherever fine books are sold, and you can find more from Michael on Twitter @mmmbarclay.
April 22, 2022
Rob Tarantino - The Bagelmeister
Some serendipitous conversations early in the pandemic inspired employment and human rights lawyer Rob Tarantino (no relation! really!) to do something a little unusual, a little creative, and definitely a whole lot tasty: he started making and selling small-batch, hand-rolled bagels. We talk about growing up Tarantino, what motivated him to start making bagels, the differences and similarities between becoming a bagelmonger and starting his own legal practice, and how sharing food that he loves has helped him tap into a supportive community of bagel enthusiasts across the city. You can find Rob and his bagels on Instagram @stclarensbagels and his legal practice at
March 23, 2022
Angela Han - Finding Compassion for Yourself
If you follow Angela Han on LinkedIn (and you should!) you probably know why she's appearing in this episode: she's a life coach, podcaster, and lawyer, sure, but more importantly she's someone who speaks candidly and compellingly about the importance of curiosity, being compassionate towards yourself, asking better questions, feeling your feelings, and setting your life up so that you're doing the things that only you can do. Check out Angela's podcast, Fit to Practice, and find her at
March 13, 2022
Andrew Kirsch - Spies Like Me
Andrew Kirsch spent a decade as a spy with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) - he joins me to talk about his new book, I Was Never Here: My True Canadian Spy Story of Coffees, Code Names and Covert Operations in the Age of Terrorism. We discuss what motivated him to Google "How do I become a Canadian spy?" and then submit the application, how being a spy impacted his efforts on the dating scene, and how he looks back on his time working to keep Canada safe from threats to its security. You can find I Was Never Here wherever books are sold, and at
February 18, 2022
Quinn Ross - "Do You Want to be Part of this Adventure?"
How does a four-day work week sound? With no reduction in pay? Quinn Ross thought it sounded so good he implemented it at the law firm he runs. Oh, and he also increased the size of the team to 70 people. During a pandemic. We talk about how his commitment to the four-day work week is both driven by and enables taking care of people, and how you could say it all started with a tornado. Really. Find out more about Quinn M. Ross and his work by checking out  Connect with Quinn on LinkedIn at
January 12, 2022
Jonathan Kay - Two Middle-Aged Guys Discuss Hobbies
A few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast hosted by my friend Jonathan Kay - he's a writer and journalist who has authored such insightful books as Your Move: What Board Games Can Teach Us About Life (co-written with Joan Moriarty) - and he offhandedly mentioned that he liked watches. "Hey", I thought, "I like watches too - maybe me and Jon could talk about the psychology of why middle-aged guys often suddenly find themselves deeply invested in new hobbies like watch collecting". Well, this episode is the record of that conversation. As you'll hear, we cover a lot of topics that, at best, only obliquely shed light on why we like watches... until suddenly everything becomes perfectly clear.
December 19, 2021
Erin Zipes - Learning, Leading, Empowering
Erin Zipes wears a few different hats: she's VP Legal at Shopify, one of the country's biggest and most successful companies, and she's part of the Backbone Angels investing collective - but just naming those roles doesn't shed enough light on how thoughtful and insightful she is about how lawyers can be their best professional selves. We cover a lot of ground in this engaging discussion, from how she built the legal team at a company experiencing hypergrowth, to how she learned to be a lawyer who adds value rather than simply mitigating risk, to grappling with the sacred trust imparted in being responsible for managing people, to the message she would deliver to her younger self.  Learn more about Backbone Angels here:
December 07, 2021
Emmett Macfarlane - Dilemmas of Free Expression
Dilemmas of Free Expression, a collection of papers edited and contributed to by Professor Emmett Macfarlane, presents a variety of perspectives examining ways to confront the challenging moral issues and policy problems inherent in controversies such as hate speech, far-right populism, campus speech debates, and censorship. In this wide-ranging discussion, we touch on matters including how the book came about, the extent to which those on university campuses face a chilling effect, and how we can productively think about, and potentially overcome, the challenges posed by expansive conceptions of free expression and competing values such as inclusion and harm reduction. You can find the book Dilemmas of Free Expression here:
November 26, 2021
Mika Bereket - The Good Egg
If you've been to Toronto's Kensington Market, you're probably familiar with Good Egg: an eclectic and personable shop offering a curated collection of cookbooks and kitchenware. Mika Bereket is Good Egg's owner and we chat about how she discovers and chooses what to carry, how being located in Kensington has informed her approach to cooking and the store's identity, how cookbooks have evolved, the different national cultures of cookbooks, and the meditative pleasure she has discovered in expanding her efforts to include publishing cookbooks (including the books Blood and Limes). You can find out more about Good Egg at and
November 19, 2021
Andrew Deman - The Claremont Run
Chris Claremont was the writer of Uncanny X-Men from 1975 to 1991 - the longest tenure in history on a mainstream superhero comic - during which he turned it into the best-selling comic in the world, featuring iconic characters like Wolverine and Storm and lauded stories such as The Dark Phoenix Saga and Inferno. Claremont's work featured strong female characters, gripping interpersonal dramatics, and lengthy, complex and engrossing storylines that have influenced contemporary storytelling in a way that can be seen on TV and movie screens around the world. Professor Andrew Deman is studying Claremont's work in The Claremont Run - an academic project, funded by Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), exploring the impact of Claremont's UXM run on the representation of gender and sexuality in comics and on "long continuity" in modern entertainment. Andrew and I discuss how to think about Claremont's legacy, his collaboration with artists and editors, and how readers can best approach the Claremont Run. You can learn more about The Claremont Run at and follow it on Twitter @ClaremontRun
November 04, 2021
Chris Ross - We Argue About Use Your Illusion 1 & 2
It does what it says on the tin: to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of Guns N' Roses' "Use Your Illusion" albums, me and my friend Chris Ross argue about which tracks deserve attention, which album is better, whether they're any good at all, and where they rank among the historically rich profusion of rock and rap records released in 1991.
October 28, 2021
Kate Kelton - A Compulsion to Create
Actor, painter, photographer - Kate Kelton's an artist with a creative lineage stretching back generations, and a cv that ranges from movies like Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and a decade as the "Tic Tac Girl" to exhibitions in galleries from Los Angeles to New York to the UK. Her "Sentry" series of portraits of women who took public stands against Hollywood's endemic sexual harassment and assault garnered acclaim, and she continues to create with an emphatic aesthetic that is unmistakably her own. We talk about being an outsider and how that informs her creativity, the benefits of art school, being in dialogue with her mother's abstract expressionism, and how technology has empowered her to connect with her audience in a way that gives her total control. For more about Kate and her art: Details on the opening reception for the new "Perceive Me" exhibition featuring her work can be found here: Kristine Schomaker | Perceive Me at MOAH, Opening Reception
October 19, 2021
Darlene Tonelli - "I Like to Build Things"
Darlene Tonelli started Inter Alia Law, a unique legal advisory firm, and co-hosts the Lawyer Life Podcast where she and co-host Mike Anderson help lawyers navigate their days with a little less stress and, ideally, a lot more fulfillment. Darlene and I talk about getting her foot in the door at a record company, what she finds attractive about philosophical Stoicism and... well, we end up spending a bunch of time talking about music - what it meant to us growing up, what it means to us now, and the timeless value of hair metal ballads. Make sure you check out the podcast that Darlene co-hosts: Some of the music that Darlene mentioned: Art d'Ecco - Michael Kiwanuka - and Hair Metal Ballad Essentials -
October 07, 2021
Peter Henein - The Funny One
What can lawyers learn from stand-up and improv comedy? Are comedians just engaging in "therapy, but with an audience" when they're on stage? What the hell was the "skin baby" joke? Learn the answers to these questions - and more! - in this conversation with Peter Henein, litigator and procurer of laughs.
September 28, 2021
Anne Driscoll - Embracing Agency
To me, it's no surprise that Anne Driscoll is where she is: the CEO of Launch Pad - a company on a mission to catalyze the growth of entrepreneurship ecosystems in cities across the United States - and a veteran of Silicon Valley who has embraced a life of accomplishment, risk-taking, and engagement with opportunity in whatever form it presents itself. Anne and I have known each other since we were kids, and it was a real treat to catch up with her - we talk about how she successfully navigates running a business with her spouse, overcoming the challenges COVID presented to a business model premised on in-person community-building, the upside of divorce, and how she managed to get her career to the point where she can say she's the happiest she's ever been.
September 22, 2021
Brian L. Frye - The "Hold My Beer" of Legal Scholarship
Brian L. Frye is a law professor and filmmaker - and somewhere along the way, he decided to draw on the most interesting bits of both those endeavours and come up with an entirely different approach to his engagement with the law. He describes his work as "conceptual art in the medium of legal scholarship", wherein he challenges some of the most dearly-held commitments of the academy, including arguing that norms against plagiarism are illegitimate (indeed, he specifically encourages and authorizes people to plagiarize his work). Lately, he's taken to successfully selling his law review article art projects as NFTs. We talk about imagining Sergei Eisenstein, what he lifted from Isaiah Berlin, why law students say they don't like math but actually do, and what's been inspiring his most recent run of publications and interventions. You can follow Brian on Twitter @brianlfrye, check out some of his scholarship at SSRN, and listen to his podcast, Ipse Dixit, at
September 01, 2021
Andrew Potter - The Decline of Western Civilization (NB: Not the Metal Years)
Author and academic Andrew Potter's most recent book is On Decline - Stagnation, Nostalgia, and Why Every Year is the Worst One Ever. We discuss why everything seems to be going to sh*t, the casinofication of life, the seeming inversion of political left and right on issues of decline, and whether there's any way out of a lapse into unreason. You can find On Decline at
August 25, 2021
Michael Rossi - The Importance of Self-Awareness
By any measure, Michael Rossi had a noteworthy career in the corporate world, culminating in more than five years as president of adidas Canada. In 2021, he did something perhaps even more remarkable: he decided to step off that track, and re-orient his life around one of his passions - coaching. He founded Voce Leadership, where, by guiding people to discover and cultivate their voice, he helps emerging leaders realize their full potential. We talk about how he ended up making such a big change, what he finds so fulfilling about coaching, and how he's navigated some seismic shifts in his professional life over the last 18 months. Find out more about Michael and Voce Leadership at
August 23, 2021
Norman Bacal - "As an Author, That's What I'm After"
About a decade ago, Norman Bacal was the managing partner of one of Canada's premier law firms - but when things fell apart and the firm collapsed, he turned to writing in order to process his resulting anger. That lead to the widely read non-fiction book "Breakdown", and he's gone on to write two novels, as well as his most recent book "Take Charge: The Skills That Drive Professional Success". He's still writing and he's also mentoring young professionals - we talk about what motivates him, his process, where he gets his best advice, and the satisfaction he's getting in helping others advance their careers. You can find Norm at
August 17, 2021
Aron Solomon - Designing A Life
Serial entrepreneur, innovation guru, observer, commentator - Aron Solomon is, as a lawyer might say, sui generis. We talk about intentionally constructing your career, leaving Berlin, the advantages of being an outsider... and the audacity of starting a watch company motivated by making something you love.  Check out Mission Watch Co. -
July 31, 2021
David Quinton Steinberg - "It's Like I Stepped Into a Different Universe"
After spending a few years in bands bouncing between Toronto and Los Angeles, in 1981 David Quinton released a solo album of punk-inflected power pop. He then spent a few decades raising a family and practising law. And then, in 2018 and 2019, he found himself playing his songs for appreciative audiences... in Japan. As if that weren't peculiar enough, in 2021 he's playing drums on new music released by iconic Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson. We chat about strange trips, looking back on the art you created in your twenties, and talking drums with Neil Peart.
July 23, 2021
Anthony Ruttgaizer - Wrestling and Writing
He's a comic book writer, cartoonist, professional wrestler, and podcaster - among many other things. We talk about which is skeezier, independent comics or independent wrestling; the time a drunk publisher swore at him; what happened when he met Ontario premier Doug Ford; his "101 Things in 1001 Days" project; and who Anthony dreams of telling to "f**k off". Check out his various endeavours at:
July 21, 2021
Joe Shouldice - Boondocking, Going Stationary, Farming Crickets
Joe and his family bought an Airstream and hit the road for nearly a year - and when they were done, he became a cricket farmer. We talk about leaving, arriving, mid-life crises, whether you need a crossbow, and the wisdom of entomophagy during a climate emergency. Check out Yes Crickets at Send praise, condemnation, threats to: Check out other episodes at:
July 15, 2021