231 | Will Di Novi (Hot Docs Podcast Festival)

My Summer Lair Chapter #231: What Makes You Push Play On A Podcast?

Growing up we had TV hosts. MuchMusic and MTV had classic VJs and even now though it’s been years since they’ve been on the air the connection to these individuals runs deep. Lots of children’s TV shows have popular hosts Mister Rogers, Mr. Dressup and others.

A connection was forged through intimacy…we invited these people into our homes and into our lives. And that love was reciprocated; they shared their lives and told us stories. It’s a different relationship than what we had with celebrities. Yes we had a connection…or wished we did with a celebrity but they were often playing a character stuck in unrealistic situations.

A music VJ was authentic…they had the same enthusiasm for the bands I liked. They were excited about a new album…or an upcoming tour.

So podcasting as a form of media intimacy isn’t entirely new. We’ve always had digital friends; we respond to strong or distinct personalities. Though the medium has changed we know this experience; just as we know the hosts of our favourite podcasts.

And on January 25 through January 28 some of those familiar hosts will be coming to the Hot Docs Podcast Festival.

We got Michael Lewis in conversation with Ira Glass, yo! Moneyball means This American Life. Full Release Live with Samantha Bee will have a surprise guest. I asked Will Di Novi, co-curator of the Podcast Festival, for a hint.

You’ll hafta stay tuned for that.

And there’s informative panels for podcast creators: from editing to crafting a good talk show to networking with decision makers from the CBC, Amazon and Wondery and lots more.

Will is gonna get into all of this and lots more. His enthusiasm for podcasting and his vision for what it could be is infectious. As he shares in this conversation: “At Hot Docs our main MO is to celebrate the art and craft of nonfiction storytelling.” And with the Hot Docs Podcast Festival they’ve done just that.

Go to HotDocs.ca for the schedule, ticket prices and to check out the full lineup.

Though as you’ll listen Will and I chronicle this incredible podcast festival.

Oh! And even though it’s based in Toronto you don’t hafta be: this is all online and you can sign up anywhere you got wifi. How sweet is that…a no pants podcast festival. (#DownWithPants!)

Chilling on your couch and hanging out with Ira Glass. Behold the power of the podcast medium.

Hot Docs Podcast Festival @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Friday January 21, 2021 at 2:30pm (EST)

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230 | Dani Doucette (Run With Me)

My Summer Lair Chapter #230: Are You Prepared To Enter The Daniverse?

Electro Pop Artist Dani Doucette joins My Summer Lair from sunny Costa Rica. She wisely departed the frozen north which is where I am recording. You can even hear the Sunshine in her voice. Sigh.

You can also hear her sun infused voice on her freshly released Run With Me EP.

Listening to her 7 song EP inspired me and I wrote the following haiku as a sort of review:

Sugar High
Universe Craved heart
Run With Me

So that is clearly an excellent place to start this really warm conversation about Dani, her spirited music, hot sci-fi movies oh and her inspired upcoming tour which isn’t like how most bands tour. You gotta wait for that such a cool creative idea.

But first as you’d expect from a podcast called My Summer Lair we gotta start with the Sun…

Dani Doucette @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Wednesday January 19, 2022 at 11:30am EST

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229 | Penny Lane (Listening to Kenny G)

My Summer Lair Chapter #229: Have You Listened…Not Heard…Have You Listened To Kenny G?

When I say Kenny G what is the first thing that pops into your head? For me and this HBO Max documentary touches upon it; it’s that classic elevator music sound. I may be in the minority.

Kenny G is the best-selling instrumental artist ever. So clearly lots of people are happily listening to Kenny G. He himself says: “I don’t think I’m a personality to people,” says Kenny G. “I think I’m a sound.”

In the hectic boom and Breathless backlash to Kenny G and his music this entire discourse is electrified by a distinct philosophy of taste. Music is an emotional connection though for many critics they are not Sentimental about Kenny’s music.

Penny Lane’s documentary Listening to Kenny G is more than a Silhouette of the popular artist. By the Time This Night Is Over you’ll know more about Kenny G and hear some of his fiercest critics who are not fans of his Classics in the Key of G.

As such I was thrilled to talk to director Penny Lane to talk about the New Standards of taste and Kenny G.

Listening to Kenny G is part of HBO’s Music Box series created by Bill Simmons who gifted us 30 for 30 over on ESPN. Think of the Music Box series as sonic 30 for 30s. You can stream the doc on HBO Max.

This Music Box documentary happens to focus on Kenny G whose music gives pleasure to many and yet angers others. Let’s unpack the complex emotions with director Penny Lane.

Penny Lane @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Tuesday November 30, 2021 at 11:30am EST

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228 | Henry VanderSpek (Old World Shoes)

My Summer Lair Chapter #228: It’s Gotta Be The Shoes…Right?

So: as a science fiction fan I enjoy photography.

Because photography exists at different times exactly like a time traveler.

A photo is taken in the present but the photo is viewed in the future so often the viewer is looking at the past. And it’s only when we look at the past—sadly we can only document the past obviously we can’t document the future I think—that we must make choices. We can’t document everything.

Thus knowing we can document the past the question then becomes what do we document?

Enter Henry VanderSpek AKA Culture Snap Photography and when it comes to documenting his photography subject matter is Old World Shoes.

His latest photography exhibition recognizes some of the talented individuals behind the shoes. Old World Shoes profiles individuals and owners of independent shoe and shoe repair businesses in Toronto.

Armed with a camera and an open heart Henry visited several shoe stores talking to shoemakers about their craft, about their customers and sometimes about the future. In the exhibition hosted at the Daniels Spectrum art gallery in Regent Park you can see photography testaments and videos to cobblers, to a rare and unique skill set and the strange environments where these creative individuals bloom.

Old World Shoes is lively: it is a compelling photo exhibition that celebrates Toronto, a city powerfully populated with immigrants and hustlers, talented individuals who have dedicated themselves to their craft. And among the crafty ones is Henry.

From Jamal Shabazz to Arnold Schwarzenegger to finding your vision to honouring his Dutch heritage with all those bicycles, this My Summer Lair episode is as comfortable as an old shoe.

Culture Snap Photography @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Friday November 26, 2021 at 11:30am (EST)

Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter because the F in FOMO doesn’t stand for Fun.

223 | Siddhartha Khosla (Only Murders in the Building)

My Summer Lair Chapter #223: What’s Your Favourite TV Show Theme?

If you have watched NBC’s This Is Us or more specifically for this My Summer Lair conversation Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building you have heard (and most likely enjoyed) Siddhartha Khosla’s music.

He is the film and television composer, singer/songwriter, and producer of the critically acclaimed band, Goldspot.

His other sonic TV credits include Nancy Drew, Love Victor, Marvel’s Runaways and the usual…lots more.

Only Murders in the Building is so fun: basically Steve Martin and Martin Short are old and thus can solve “Only Murders in the Building.” Heh all that crime and grit in NYC and for them it’s limited to their building. Which thankfully is stuffed with quirky weirdos. Their madcap antics are joined by Selena Gomez who does her best to keep the old dudes in line.

All of their sleuthing is deftly scored by Siddhartha’s music who I refer to as a sonic character. Like a boomerang certain themes continue to circle back and if you listen closely you’ll hear clues.

As we talked Season 2 of Only Murders in the Building is being shot right now; expect that soon. In America you can check it out on Hulu; in Canada on Disney Plus.

So dope it got to Season 2: coming out June 28, 2022.

I wanted to do some detective work to know how this fantastic soundtrack came together and connect with the individual who fashioned it. Here is my conversation with the soundtrack composer Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building.

Siddhartha Khosla @ W T F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Monday December 13, 2021 at 11:30am EST

Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter because the F in FOMO doesn’t stand for Fun.

222 | Jeff Sinasac (Stop the Saturnians!)

My Summer Lair Chapter #222: How Do You Stop The Saturnians?

You may know Jeff Sinasac as a Nerdy Troy McClure…as an actor he has popped up in Season 4 of Killyjoys, Season 3 of Titans, Season 2 of The Boys and Code 8. Or you may know him as the writer and director of Red Spring an apocalypse pitting survivors against mutated vampires. Well now he’s back with another apocalypse this one is a video game!

Stop the Saturnians! is available on Steam as of February 18, 2022.

This is a classic style arcade video game…our My Summer Lair conversation references Missile Command, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Galaga, Centipedes and of course the classic never out of style: Atari 2600.

If you Die Humanity Dies…the pressure is on in this video game. Are you up to the challenge?

Check it out. It’s so fun to go back to a classic arcade style video game. Lemme know what your high score is or how many levels you successfully complete. Are you able to save humanity?

This text scene of exposition is over so let’s get into the conversation with Jeff and let’s learn how we can we Stop the Saturnians!

Jeff Sinasac @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Saturday December 18, 2021 at Noon EST

Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter because the F in FOMO doesn’t stand for Fun.

221 | Kat Rosenfield (No One Will Miss Her)

My Summer Lair Chapter #221: Are You Going To Miss Her?

Welcome back Kat Rosenfield to My Summer Lair!

The last time Kat visited My Summer Lair we discussed her novel A Trick of Light co-written with Stan Lee as one of his final projects. That was a thriller with a sci-fi bent; this time she has a thriller with a murder mystery bent. Oh snap!

Kat’s latest novel is No One Will Miss Her. The back of of the novel reads in part: “A smart, witty, crackling novel of psychological suspense in which a girl from a hardscrabble small town meets a gorgeous Instagram influencer from the big city, with a murderous twist that will shock even the most savvy reader.”

Indeed! Even M Night wishes he had a shovel because he would dig this twist.


A quote from Page 55 of No One Will Miss Her: “But I was too slow. Too stupid. Too innocent to understand that we live in a world where some people like to stomp on little things—and where they’d tell you afterward that what they had done was a sort of kindness.”

Oh dear. Let’s investigate Kat Rosenfield’s No One Will Miss Her; of course we’ll conduct this My Summer Lair investigation…by the book.

Kat Rosenfield @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Tuesday December 14, 2021 at 11:30am (EST)

Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter because the F in FOMO doesn’t stand for Fun.

213 | Fanny Curtat (Beyond Monet)

My Summer Lair Chapter #213: When I Say Monet What Do You Picture?

I wish the audio was a bit better for that conversation but it happens sometimes being on the road. Still fun to talk about Claude Monet with art historian and one of the people behind Beyond Monet: Fanny Curtat.

This immersive experience happening in Toronto Beyond Monet is fantastic and totally worth pants. It’s PantsWorthy.

The pandemic allowed us contemplate still life…a life where we all slowed down; we not only got to reorgnize our houses but also our lives and our values.

Hopefully one of those new values includes making time for the contemplation of art, the connection of art.

Making art and engaging with art are two of the most human things we do. And it doesn’t hafta be Monet…it’s just as special when a 5 year old runs up to you with a painting they swear is a turtle.

Even if there’s not such thing as a purple turtle.

Beyond Monet is called an Immersive Experience which makes it an invitation. I haven’t described a lot of the show or told you what to expect…go into it without the trailer. See it for yourself. Shake off the still life and bring yourself to life.

Like noticing or even slowing down your breathing. Don’t just rush from one breathe to the next. Pause for the cause. Be human. Be creative.

Beyond Monet @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Wednesday August 11, 2021 at 1:30pm EST

212 | Robert Watson (Courtyard Comedy)

My Summer Lair Chapter #212: Are You Ready To Welcome Back Live Comedy?!

Yo welcome to My Summer Lair I’m your host Sammy “AF” Younan and for today’s episode we’re gonna breakdown just what AF stands for.

The F for example could stand for As Fun…because you’re invited to some comedy fun! 

Gay AF Comedy in association with Campbell House Museum present Courtyard Comedy: an outdoor physically distanced summer comedy series of four shows, taking place Saturday afternoons in August 2021 in the Campbell House gardens at the downtown corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue. 

Or the AF could stand for Fantastic…As Fantastic…because Courtyard Comedy is hosted by Robert Watson whose business card reads: “playwright, performer, fragrance aficionado and producer of queer comedy shows.”  

Which is what Courtyard Comedy is…another gay comedy showcase. So if the F stands for Foreign…As Foreign…because you have had limited exposure to this distinctive comedy scene; never no worries Robert Watson will take us on a Universal Studios tour.

It will be nice to have live comedy every Saturday in August. Whew.

On March 11, 2020 the NBA suspended the regular season and that officially big banged a significant lockdown: the movies, comedy clubs, sports, concerts and more all went dark for months. As creators find a way to resume live experiences it’s imperative, we don’t take them (or their talents) for granted. To return to live shows is to spark gratitude and joy. What an incredibly inspiring invitation to participate either as a guest or as a performer. It’s fresh, right?

So this time the F stands for Fresh: As Fresh.

Gay AF @ WT F

Host Sammy Younan

Recorded: Wednesday August 4, 2021 at 3:30pm (EST)

211 | Sean Sirianni (Creative Imbalance Podcast)

My Summer Lair Chapter #211: Is Your Creativity In Balance?

I’ll keep this brief as Sean will properly introduce himself and his freshtastic podcast The Creative Imbalance. Dude just hit a milestone of 150 episodes though as he’ll share his journey there are more than 150 episodes.

A remarkable achievement since so many start a podcast and don’t well…finish a podcast. The technical term is podfade; this typically happens with less than 10 episodes; a podcast just abruptly stops issuing new episodes. Itunes is really a podcast graveyard; a memorial of shattered dreams.

It is a lot of work to craft a podcast; the classic war of attrition and despite that long hard war Sean is still standing; still smiling and still seeking growth.

He and I used to record in a bar in downtown Toronto the Pacific Junction Hotel bar and we’ve since transitioned into new formats and new styles while still having old fun. As you’ll hear Sean is good with the technical EQ and the emotional IQ which which makes him a special if not quirky podcast host.

Congratulations Sean on 150 episodes! Here’s to a 150 more.

Sean Sirianni @ WT F

Host & Photography by Sammy Younan

Recorded: Thursday August 19, 2021 at 5pm (EST)

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