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Medieval women, the science of zombie brains and Trolley Dances

 September 14, 2023 at 11:28 AM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. Today , we are showcasing arts and culture happenings around San Diego. This weekend , I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. A new book explores the parallels of medieval women and women of today as they challenge societal norms.

S2: I thought , wow , it would be really interesting to bring this story to a wider audience and tell it in a fictional way , not just Christine's story , but a story about many of the women artists who have lived then and now.

S1: Plus , if you love zombie films and neuroscience , Beth Accomando has a movie marathon to tell you about. And from trolley dance to art exhibits , Julia Dixon Evans shares what's on her radar this weekend. That's ahead on Midday Edition. There's centuries between women that lived during medieval times and those that live in the present. There are many differences , obviously , but a new book reveals their similarities. Kathleen B Jones is the author of the novel Cities of Women. She's also professor emerita at Sdsu. Professor , welcome to the program.

S2: Thank you so much for having me , Jade. I'm happy to be talking with you.

S1: So glad to talk with you and about your book.

S2: And it's about a modern woman , a professor who sort of disillusioned with her career , who becomes obsessed with the medieval manuscripts. They're known as the illuminated manuscripts of a writer named Christine de Pizan. And that is an actual historical figure. And the modern woman named Verity sets out to prove that the manuscripts were illuminated by a woman painter named Anastasia. Despite the assumption that men created all the paintings in her books.


S2: First of all , the actual book that Christine de Pizan wrote and published in 1405 in Paris , and it was called The Book of the City of Ladies. And in it , she talks about being frustrated with all the things that men have said against women , all of the things that they've used to to deride women's achievements or make them invisible. And they set out on a kind of revision of history together and tell her that she's going to build the she's going to build a city of ladies and she's going to do that with her pen , with her words. And among the people that she talks about and mentions in one sentence is a woman painter she knows named Anastasia , who is more talented than all of the other artists painting in books today. And it was that one line and that one name that inspired me to say , Wow , what can I write about that woman that will perhaps bring her to life and and attach it to this idea that a modern woman is setting out to prove that , in fact , this was the artist who illuminated Christine's paintings. So that book was very important. But equally important was an experience I had while I was still teaching at Sdsu. And I went to Hoover High School , and we were asked to participate in a literacy program there and bring a book that was interesting to us. And I brought the book of the City of Ladies and read it to a group of teenagers thinking that because Christine was saying things that would sound modern , I could confuse them a little and actually shock them When I told them that the woman who was writing these things wrote them in the 15th , the early 15th century , and in fact , it had that effect. And so I thought , wow , it would be really interesting to bring this story to a wider audience and tell it in a fictional way , not just Christine's story , but a story about many of the women artists who have lived then and now who have been essentially hidden from history. Right.

S1: Right. It's fascinating.

S2: And in it she retells their stories from what we would now call a kind of feminist perspective. So given the fact that she was using these mythical figures , these figures from ancient history , it's entirely possible that Anastasia was meant as a kind of metaphor for all of the women who had made amazing achievements in the arts , even in the time in which Christine was living , but were really relatively unknown. And another factor is that when Christine wrote her books initially , they were so they were so well done that people started rumors about her and said , Oh , she couldn't have written these things. These things must have been written by men. And so you put those two facts together and it's possible that she invented this character to represent people who had been misrepresented. We just don't know whether or not the character actually existed. But for my story , it didn't matter because it allowed me to , you know , basically invent the character that she talked about , whether metaphorically or as an historical figure , who whom she actually knew and and , you know , create a story , a back story about her and how she became the artist that she did become. Right.

S1: Right. And like. You mentioned there is a dual timeline in your novel , that of the Professor Verity Fraser and the medieval women.

S2: I mean , Verity is someone who's been working on a project to bring to the foreground the contributions that women have made in history in her field at the time is 19th century French history. And she confronts a lot of obstacles she can't find in her in her investigations , in her research , any what we would call hard facts to prove that Anastasia existed and that she , in fact , created these paintings. And when she does create a theory that is at least plausible , linking together a bunch of things that she discovers along the along the way , she's essentially ridiculed for it. People say , well , you know , you haven't done your homework and and she's she's a little bit , you know , not defeated but a little bit upset about that. And and similarly , in modern times , there were certainly women who wanted to bring to the foreground a lot of other women's stories and were expected to , you know , be rather much more docile or conform to the cultural norms of the times. And so the parallels are about obstacles that women then and now face in trying to lend credibility to the work that they're creating.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman speaking with Kathleen B Jones about her book , Cities of Women , which examines women centuries apart and how they challenge societal norms.

S2: But in fact , there are many different ways that despite the removal of those legal or political barriers , there are cultural norms that keep people in much more traditional places or prevent them from achieving the things that they want to achieve , whether their standards in a particular career that require people to conform behaviorally in order to be recognized. And that's very much like what happened for women in some situations in the in the medieval times. But the fact is that women had a lot more opportunities than we recognize in the medieval period and were very active in economic and political and cultural and even military roles. And so these are the some some of the things that I was trying to get at , not just the similarities between the periods of time , which are sort of about obstacles to the recognition of what women actually can and do do , but also that this notion that we're progressing along a kind of linear line and things are always better actually in the late medieval period and into , you know , the early Renaissance opportunities exploded for women to do a lot of things that later on they were excluded from doing , whether it was being artists or whether it was operating , you know , what pubs or , you know , facilities or where food was served or participating in a variety of other of careers. Many times those closed later than we expected , expected them to be closed. So medieval women actually had it was an all dark ages , let's put it that way , for women's opportunities.

S1: In the book , De Pizan and Anastasia were creating books in medieval Paris.

S2: For example , this is a period before the printing press , so all books were handmade. The materials that went into them were handmade. The the it wasn't these books. The illuminated manuscripts were were written on what was called vellum or parchment. And parchment is made from animal skins that were treated in a particular way , stretched and dried and then formed into the the what we would consider the pages of a book which were which were then gathered together in groups called choirs or groups of Folios. And then Scribe was hired to line those pages so that the print that he , he or she was making would be , you know , parallel and and would write into them by hand what an author had actually created or was , or the person was transcribing , transcribing , for example , maybe prayers in a book of hours that were traditional at the time. And then that scribe would lead spaces on the page for paintings to be made to illuminate the words or areas around the borders of pages where they would be painting what are called fluoridated borders. There would be tendrils and vines and strange images that could float around the page , and then those pages would be taken to a bookbinder who sewed them together by hand and then put more , more , you know , let's say wood or or some heavier material to hold them together and , and bind it all in either say , leather or silk , because a lot of these manuscripts were commissioned by noble people. The poor people in Paris at the time wouldn't have been able to afford things that were as as elaborate as these. So , you know , it was an entirely tactile , physical , hands on handmade production of these kinds of books that , you know , have were replaced in many ways by the the the invention of the printing press in this early 16th century. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And you talked about the different fields women were involved in during the late medieval period in Europe or France , rather.

S2: Often what happens is families would be , let's say , parchment makers , and that trade would pass down. To the next generation. And if it was the case that the children of that generation were daughters , then sometimes those daughters were trained in the trade. And this was also true for scribes. Christine de Pizan herself actually hand transcribed her own works onto these manuscripts. In some cases , women were also artists. They were the people who painted the borders or images that were included in these books. They were book binders. They were found in just about every aspect of the book trade in Paris. And Paris was really the center or one of the centers of European book trade at this time. And one of the the pieces of evidence that I found for this was a map of medieval Paris that had been superimposed on modern the modern map of Paris , which had had demonstrated exactly where artisans lived in the medieval city , and many of them had names attached to the residences. And some of those were women. And this is a result of archival research that medieval scholars had been participating in for for decades.

S1: And this is your first novel. Your six other books have been works of nonfiction.

S2: And , you know , when you're using your imagination and creativity , you have a lot more license to bring in , you know , in many ways your own well , not just your voice , but the voice of of characters to create a much more imaginative , expansive story than I was , you know , able to do. And it , of course , required me to in some ways unlearn in the kind of writing that I'd been trained to do as as an academic and free myself from some of the constraints of language that are typical in both published essays or even published books. And so it was very exciting. I remember one of the early people I worked with as an editor on some things that I was working on said , Gee , you actually can write. And then that was that was kind of funny. I thought I'd written a lot of books already , but , you know , it was an entirely different type of writing and you just discover a different voice. You discover that you can inhabit characters that really begin to come alive in your mind to the extent that you often will dream about them.


S2: I mean , I'm interested in the idea that is in some ways for me , the center of this , you know , what motivates people to continue to pursue something that they're passionate about despite the obstacles that are placed in front of them. I mean , it's focusing on women , but I'm hoping that there's a larger message here. How do we live true to our passions , you know , perhaps against the grain of what social expectations are ? And and besides that , because it's a dual timeline novel. The other point is you want to call it a kind of deeper line of thinking in the book or deeper line of the narrative is about time. The fact that , you know , we tend to think of the past and the present and the future is separate from each other. And the fact is that when Verity sets out on this this journey , this quest to prove the existence of this ancient person , she becomes sort of , you know , swallowed up in the past herself. She has a kind of almost visceral experience that not that she's living in the past , but that the past has come alive again for her. And I think that's an it's it's an interesting experience to think differently about time.

S1: I've been speaking with Kathleen B Jones , professor emerita at Sdsu and author of the novel Cities of Women. Her book is available now. Professor , thank you so much for speaking with me and sharing your book.

S2: Thank you so much for inviting me.

S1: Coming up , Armando tells us about a zombie movie marathon that explores the science behind The Walking Dead.

S3: Every chapter is a different symptom walking , talking , but told from the perspective of zombie brains. But it's all modern neuroscience research and everything that we know about how these things happen.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman , Kpbs cinema junkie Beth Accomando. She really loves zombies. And as proof of that , she is co-hosting a 14 hour horror marathon at the Comic-Con Museum on September 23rd. It's called The Secret Morgue Zombie Autopsy Edition. To add some insight into the zombie brain. She invited a pair of neuroscientists to introduce the films. One of them is UC San Diego professor of cognitive science , Bradley Voytek. She interviewed him in 2014 when he just published the book Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep. Here's that interview to put you in the mood for the upcoming zombie marathon.

S4: So Bradley , you use zombies to help make neuroscience a little easier for the layperson to understand.

S3: He and I did PhDs together at UC Berkeley in neuroscience , and we were both horror movie fans. And we would do these movie nights and we'd get a couple of drinks and have a couple of beers and a bunch of neuroscientists talking about zombie movies and inevitably turning to zombie brains. That's the unofficial version. The official version is I got a phone call from Matt Moak , who's the head of the Zombie Research Society back in 2010. Matt Moak was at the time doing a zombie blog and he didn't want to call it Matt's zombie blog. He wanted to call it the Zombie Research Society and started getting phone calls from press about the science behind zombies. And so he started reaching out to academics and scientists and clinicians to see if they wanted to help with his crazy project. And that's how it all happened.


S3: They appear to be able to take over the brains and some behavior of insects , cockroaches or ants. And it's totally fascinating the fact that you can have a fungus that can infect , for example , an ant to the fungus is called the cordyceps and actually features prominently in the video game The Last of Us , where the cordyceps fungus jumps into humans and it changes the behavior of the ants ants. And so people call it the zombie fungus. Of course , there isn't really anything plausible that would that would really do that in humans , but it makes for a very good way to connect strange real science with strange fiction and a way that people actually are interested in. So if I give a public lecture to a bunch of high school students or something like that , and I talk about the role that ongoing neural oscillations play in biasing neuronal firing in order to affect perception and cognition , people's eyes glaze over by the third word. Whereas if I go into a classroom and I start talking about why do zombies crave human flesh , what in their brains might make them do this , then people actually pay attention. It's a trick , but it seems to work and people like it , and so do we. I enjoy it a lot.

S4: Now , you actually tested out the zombie idea at a like a trade show or an academic science fair. And how did how did that go ? I mean , was that part of like the first clue that you were on to something that was useful ? Yeah.

S3: So every year there's this annual Society for Neuroscience Conference. It's an international conference. It's 35,000 neuroscientists from around the world attend. Think about your high school science fair , where you've got your posters , except it's multimillion dollar , massively funded neuroscientific projects. And so you've got thousands of these posters up on the research floor simultaneously , and all of these PhDs and MDs walking around looking at the latest and greatest research. And my buddy Jen , Tim and I , we decided to test this out there. And so we created a fake poster about the zombie brain , and we couched it in medical terms so you wouldn't get it immediately. But if you started reading it , you would clearly see what we were on about. And we found an empty spot in the poster hall and just hung it up and waited to see what happened. And it kind of spread around the neuroscience Twitter where graduate students were then tweeting each other and they're saying , You have to go see this poster at aisle three , Section eight. And people were pretending like it was a real amazing piece of breakthrough research. And so they're getting people over there. And we just sort of sat back and watched as people would kind of do this funny take when they realized what was happening that made us realize it would work among grad students and things like that. But what really hit home for me that it would work among even the public was one of the security guard who was working at the conference center is standing over by this poster and sort of reading it and smiling and chuckling. And never once have I seen a security guard working at this conference , reading a poster at the solid scientific jargon. Gobbledygook. Right. But this guy was looking at it and laughing. And that was. A very big moment for me thinking , okay , this actually might entice people who aren't scientists a little bit into this. You had.

S4: An acronym. For.

S5: For.

S3: The entire condition ? Yeah , the PhD. It's the Consciousness Deficit Hyperactivity disorder. It's a little bit of a joke about how the field tends to create these funny terms for everything , really.


S3: So the classic case is Roman gladiatorial times. There is a physician named Galen who worked with the Gladiators and they would get stabbed a lot and injured a lot. And he would see , okay , if they got stabbed in the spinal cord , what happened ? Okay. They'd be paralyzed from here on down or something like that. If they got a blunt force trauma to this part of the brain , what would happen ? And so that was that was it. That's the only method that we had for 2000 years of linking behavior to the brain. And so we took a similar approach , except instead of having real people to make that inference on , we use zombies , by which I mean we've watched a lot of zombie movies and said , okay , what are some of the zombie stereotypes ? If I ask anybody to mimic a zombie that you would usually immediately just do that kind of thing. And they walk really slowly , unless they're fast zombie. But there's the original. Romero Zombies were really slow , uncoordinated , and we say , okay , well , what do we know about how the brain coordinates movements ? How is it that we are able to walk ? How is it that we're able to talk ? What do we know about this stuff ? And then what can we infer about the zombies brain based on how they behave ? And so every chapter is a different symptom walking , talking , but told from the perspective of zombie brains. But it's all modern neuroscience research and everything that we know about how these things happen.


S3: I think people who have an interest in neuroscience or science in general but may not know that they have an interest in the brain and trying to use it as a way to get them enticed into learning a little bit more about how the brain works.


S3: Well , so-called higher cognitive functions , also known as thinking , tend to get all the glory in neuroscience before the brain did a lot of deep thinking. It just did a lot of moving. In fact , scientists have argued that the entire reason we have a brain at all is to get us moving around in the environment. The logic for this argument arises from observations in a little ocean creature called a sea squirt. Seriously , that's its name. The sea squirt is a small and evolutionarily old animal of the phylum chordata. When scientists say evolutionarily old , by the way , we mean that the life form has been in a relatively unchanged state for millions and millions of years in its young life , The sea squirt is a little larval creature that has a very primitive brain and sensory organs. Its goal during its larval stage of development is to swim around and find a rock to perch on. Once it's found a suitable home , like , say , a nice secure rock with plenty of organic food just flowing by the sea , squirt will attach itself with its head facing out. Then it basically just sits there catching food as it floats by , as it matures into a full grown adult creature , the sea squirt does something quite strange. It digests its own brain.

S4: I love that story. Did you see it as a little like fairy tale ? It does actually write like. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S4: And then it eats its own brain. And the moral of that story is.

S3: You don't need a brain if you just sit there.

S4: One of the things that is scary about zombies in films is the sense of you no longer are yourself and you're facing zombies who might be your family members or someone you loved. So there's a genuine fear in that zombie universe. And I'm just wondering , does that kind of reflect some of the fears people have about certain kinds of mental illness or brain disease , things like Alzheimer's or dementia ? Yeah , I.

S3: Would say that zombie movies in general are a very good blank slate for projecting different kinds of fear. So in the original Night of Living Dead by Romero in 1968 , there's a heavy narrative about class and race in modern times. It's biomedical engineering , genetics and things like that. But there's always this issue of ultimately , who are we and what makes us human ? And zombies are us , minus that spark of awareness. And I think that's enticing to a lot of people and scary. I think that's really what makes it scary is that loss of control. The idea that something can flip a virus can cause us to change our behavior in some way , that we and our loved ones are no longer us. We are this monster. And I think that's really a driving point for a lot of the movies. And I think that's what draws people to it. And to some extent , we encounter that either be it , be it a loved one who doesn't remember us anymore because of some disease like Alzheimer's , where you can see in real life there's something that can happen to cause someone to be not quite who you remember them to be. The idea of a zombie movie is pushing that to a ludicrous degree. But that's kind of the point of art , right ? Is taking something real and pushing its boundaries as far as you can to see what what does that do to us and how does it make us.


S3: So this is precisely what got me into neuroscience. When I was an undergraduate , I was studying physics initially , and I grew up with my step grandfather , who was an engineer , very smart guy. And when I started college shortly beforehand , he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease , and he quickly went from being this really smart guy that I could talk to about math and science to somebody that wasn't himself anymore. And my interests went from cosmology and the big scale questions about where is the universe from and what is all this matter and what are we doing here ? But seeing that happen to him changed that from , okay , well , wait , none of that matters. If we don't understand how can that happen to somebody ? How can we go from being a person that can think about these big questions to not really being able to take care of ourselves anymore and having that happen so quickly ? And so that's that's one of the things that really got me interested in neuroscience was how can this happen ? Who are we and why is it that fragile and.


S3: Yeah. Initially my research was looking at how the changes in brain structure , changes in behavior. I use a lot of physics looking at how these different dynamical systems interact , how do groups of neurons communicate with one another in order to coordinate our behaviors ? To give a really quick example , this is £3 of 100 billion neurons and somehow these really noisy , leaky biological cells are all able to communicate and coordinate in a way that you and I can be sitting here having this conversation. The fact that that can happen at all is amazing to me , especially considering how many things can go wrong in normal development. I mean , the more I learned about neuroscience in the brain , the scarier it becomes. I have to not think about how many different ways things can go wrong , but it's really exquisite. It's amazing that this works , and I think it's one of the biggest problems we we can tackle as a scientist , obviously I'm biased because I love this field , but it sure as heck makes for a fun day to day job.


S3: Neurology is the medical study of brain and its dysfunctions. Neuroscience is the scientific study of the relationship between the brain and behavior. Psychology is the study of human behavior , sometimes related to the brain , sometimes related to social context. And psychiatry is specifically the study of mental disorders and again , sometimes related to the brain , sometimes not.


S3: It's not hard to get people. I feel like it's not hard to get people engaged in neuroscience , but there's always tricks and there's always better ways of talking about it. So we've actually played around with a couple of things. My collaborator , Tim and I , we did another poster at a conference prior to the remake of the RoboCop movie talking about what would a modern day RoboCop look like ? How would it have changed since the RoboCop of the 80s , given all the advancements that we have in brain computer interfacing ? So we've played around with other ideas , but nothing , nothing concrete yet on the horizon. But I definitely will continue to be doing the zombie brain stuff and continue doing the public outreach. I feel like I got really lucky finding this job in this field and I feel like everybody should be a scientist because I think it's so much fun.

S4: Thank you very much. Thank you.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with neuroscientist Bradley Voytek. He'll be introducing zombie films and performing a brain dissection on September 23rd for the Secret Morgue zombie autopsy edition at Comic-Con Museum. Coming up , your weekend preview and a long standing event solving the problem of limited performance space in San Diego.

S6: Trolley dances really does continue to get art out in unexpected places and kind of temporarily offer the solution to the struggle to find performance space , which continues.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Heinemann for our weekend arts preview. We have the 25th annual Trolley Dances , A Poetry Without Borders , Reading and more Ways to Get Your Arts and Culture Fix in this weekend. Joining me with all the details is Kpbs arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And , Julia , welcome.

S6: Hi , Jade. Thanks for having me.

S1: Always glad to have you here. So first up is the annual trolley dances celebrating 25 years. And it's a collaboration between San Diego Dance Theater and Metropolitan Transit system. What can you tell us about that ? Yeah.

S6: So trolley Dances , It was dreamed up by Jean Isaacs of San Diego Dance Theater in the late 1990s , and she was inspired by this program she'd seen in Europe. And they were also struggling to find performance space in San Diego. And this was something that would solve that. It would they could take this dance outside and it would also bring art , bring dance performance to the people and meet them where they were. Jeanne Isaacs recently retired in the last few years , and Terry Wilson is their new artistic director.

S7: The public part of it is a piece of education that's really important , I think , to bring that dance to to people that really won't see it. You know , they may not ever go to the theater to see dance.

S6: And Wilson was actually one of the dancers in the company back when Jeanne Isaacs launched trolley dances , and now she's curating it. Wilson and Isaacs both have choreography in the show. And , you know , when I was writing about trolley dances , this was five years ago for their 20th anniversary. At the time , I talked to one of the MTS engineers who was he was working a shift that first year and he said that the dancers actually did try to dance on the trolleys , but they no longer do. What they do is they will find these makeshift performance spaces that are nearby to the trolley stops. So the trolley is kind of a form of transit to get between these dances. And in doing so , trolley dances really does continue to get art out in unexpected places and kind of temporarily offer the solution to the struggle to find performance space , which continues.

S7: It was an opportunity to present art without having to rent a theater. So I would say sadly , there are very few theaters in this city that San Diego Dance Theater can afford.

S6: You know , they have their own performance space that's in this transformed studio , a box style theater and Liberty Station , but it's small. And they also do projects with La Jolla Playhouse with their Without Walls Festival. And that's another site specific outdoor public thing , just like trolley dances. Wow.

S1: Wow.

S6: You buy a ticket and you meet at the trolley station in Old Town. There are a couple of performances at Old Town , and then you'll hop on the trolley as as kind of like a tour cohort and you head to the next stop along the blue line towards Little Italy and then Park and Market and back there. Six choreographers this year , including Jean Isaacs , Terry Wilson , plus Dr. Grace , June of BC Soul , Blithe Barton , Kim Epifanio and Dance Arts. And you can sort of accidentally stumble upon it as a passersby. That's a huge part of trolley dances. The fact that they're out in this public space , there's people going about their lives around the art. In one of the dances , Wilson said that the dancers will be performing on a ramp that comes up from the parking towards the trolley station , so the dancers will have to adjust and move and reposition themselves as travelers pass by. It's kind of a guessing game to figure out when and where they'll be. But the tours will be leaving Old Town every hour from 1015 to 315 both days , Saturday and Sunday. General admission for tickets is $35 , but there are discounted $20 tickets for seniors , military students and artists.

S1: Oh , that's great. Okay , so there's also a special poetry reading at verbatim books this weekend called Poetry Without Borders.

S6: This is Kazim Ali because he just published a brand new collection of poetry. He is really prolific as a writer , not just poetry , but also fiction , middle grade memoir and essay. And this new book. It is poetry. It's called Silcoon. And it just came out this week. I talked to him right before the book came out and asked him about the title , and he said that it means peacefulness or serenity in Arabic. And it also refers to a punctuation mark that kind of indicates a rest on on a consonant , kind of like a pause within a word. So the book is partly this retrospective for the last 20 years of his writing , and then it also shifts to having new stuff , brand new work from him.

S8: It does include about 50 or 60 pages. Of new poetry and sort of gestures , or it opens the door to the future. It is this sort of pause and reassessment , yet it is what is going to allow me to jump into whatever is next.

S6: And his book is also informed by the idea of really tangible ways like he can be this really narrative poet with these story heavy sentences. They'll rap along for lines and lines. But for at least one of the poems in this book , I was really struck by the way he plays with language. It's almost percussive , like lyrical writing for some of these poems. And language in general is so important in his work , the way that it impacts upbringing and migration. And yeah , I asked him to read a really short piece. It's the title poem section , and on the page many of these words are spelled the same but pronounced differently. So like wound and wound , or they're pronounced the same but spelled differently like wood , like a tree and wood. Like , I would read this poem so you'll see what I mean by percussive.

S8: The world is wound around me , wound that blessing that approaches reproach , that world that would wind would wind wound how thunder would thunder. The sound they're sewn there is shown shown sewn to a one that would remain remains still one in the world. Could will I one will I shunned son soon swoon soon.

S1: That was Kazim Ali. He's participating in a group poetry reading at verbatim books this Saturday.

S6: She's this really great performer. Her works really rooted in the border in indigenous landscapes. There's Blas Falconer , who now teaches at San Diego State. Arthur Cassian. This is his first book and kind of his book launch. He's an LA poet. And one of the things that Kazim Ali said about these poets is that they're they all have this profound relationship with this region , and they write in ways that's personal to that , but also still universal. And it all be hosted by William Noriko. It starts at 7:00 on Saturday at verbatim.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. We're here with Kpbs arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans and we are talking about local arts and culture. Julia , let's talk about some visual art. There's two new exhibits opening up at Quint Gallery in La Jolla , including one that's about motel soap. So please tell me more about this.

S6: Okay , we'll start with that one with the soap. It's in the tiny back room of Quint Gallery. It's called the Museum of Blank , which is basically the art gallery equivalent of a speakeasy. And that space is used for more experimental stuff or these curiosities of. Mark Quint The gallerist. And this exhibit is definitely that. It's a curiosity about motel soap. The exhibit is called Liquid Ecstasy , Dirty Dreams and curated by Mark Quint and artist Ethan Chan. And it started with an anonymous collector who gathered motel soaps and motel soap related stuff from around the country. So including there's there's a shirt made of Motel six soap packets. It also has used soaps that are they're like mounted to the wall , like fine art and photography of brightly colored suds in washing hands. And I'm guessing that the whole room smells pretty clean with all that soap. And in the main gallery , the Quint Gallery is work by Ryan McGinnis , new charcoal drawings. He is a longtime Quint artist and there's going to be dozens of these big charcoal works and each one is kind of a fragment of a bigger story and all of them are created in the last three years. Both exhibits will open on Saturday with a coffee reception. That's from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Quint in La Jolla.

S1: Sounds very unique and interesting. So in theater you have a few unique options as well , both that are referred to as autobiographical solo shows. So tell us about these.

S6: Right ? So the first is one by playwright and performer Sarah Porco Lab. It's part of her Dragon trilogy about her Filipino family , the ancestry and her upbringing. And this one , it focuses it's called Dragon Mama , and it focuses on her mother who left and ran away to Alaska in search of and this is a quote , in search of a gayer life. And. Pork Club is such this enchanting performer. She's powerful and also manages to master these intricate character changes is kind of bouncing between all these characters in each of her plays. The clips I've seen are undeniably funny as well , and this is all at Diversionary Theatre. It opens tonight and runs through October 8th. And then at the Old Globe is Aladdin Dishwasher Dreams. He's a playwright , a filmmaker , a comedian and an actor. And this is another it's another one person performer. This follows his Bangladesh born parents as they embark on their own American Dream journey. And one thing that's really cool about this production is it'll be accompanied by live tabla , percussion. This opens on Saturday and runs through October 15th at the Globe.

S1: All right. And one more. Holzman Quartet returns to the Maritime Museum this Sunday.

S6: They perform on the Berkeley Steamboat at the Maritime Museum. They're basically chipping away at Haydn's string quartets , and they've been doing this for years. He had a lot of string quartets , and for each of these performances , they also pair that Hayden piece with a modern composer or one of Haydn's contemporaries. And the modern composer at this time is Ned Rotherham , who is he's a Pulitzer Prize winning American composer , and he just passed away last year. So this is a string quartet of his that was based loosely on art by Picasso , where each of the ten movements are named after specific Picasso paintings. And this is a movement called Minotaur. I'll leave you with this one. The concert Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Maritime Museum downtown.

S1: All right. And you can find details on these and more arts events and sign up for Julia's weekly arts newsletter at Slash Arts. I've been speaking with Kpbs arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks.

S6: Thank you , Jade. Have a good weekend.

S9: You too.

S1: And that's our show for today. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth reporting on San Diego issues. Catch the roundtable here tomorrow at noon. And if you ever missed an midday edition show , you can find our podcast on all platforms. Big thanks to the Midday edition team producers Andrew Bracken , Juliana Domingo and Brooke Ruth , producer assistants Laura McCaffrey and Ariana Clay. Art segment contributors Beth Accomando and Julia Dixon , Evans , technical producers Adrian Villalobos and Rebecca Chacon. The music you're hearing is from San Diego's own surefire soul ensemble. I'm your host , Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend , everyone.

Trolley Dances™
San Diego Dance Theater
San Diego Dance Theater
Trolley Dances™

Midday Edition is back with another show about San Diego arts and culture.

A local professor explores the similarities between women that lived during medieval times and those that live in the present in her historical fiction book, "Cities of Women."

Also, KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando is co-hosting a zombie film marathon at the Comic-Con Museum — she shares a conversation with a neuroscientist about the science behind what's really inside zombie brains.

Lastly, we take a look the 25th annual Trolley Dances, a "Poetry Without Borders" reading and more ways to get your arts and culture fix this weekend.


Kathleen B. Jones, author of "Cities of Women"

Bradley Voytek, professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts producer and editor