5 Questions with Rags #38 - Katie Nordgren

I met Katie Nordgren a year or two ago, through a mutual friend. I don't know what it was but I was intimidated by her brand of cool right away. (Fun fact: Turns out her cool is a combination of vast intelligence and overwhelming nerdiness.) My friend introduced me by saying, "This is Rags. He had a vasectomy." I'm sure the redness in my face managed to make its way through the darkness. But, rather than be weirded out, Katie turned it into an opportunity to engage me in a rather thoughtful conversation about reproductive responsibility and whatnot. Turns out, that Katie is a comedian too! Quoting the acts of comedians is a tedious - and frankly stupid - process, so you should just get out and check her out. (I saw a set online once, but I cannot seem to find it anymore, so take my word for it and do it!) If you're over in Vancouver, check out Katie's monthly comedy show, Comedy at Big Rock at Big Rock Urban Brewery. 

And, as always, get her on that Twitter ysht

1. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Hmmm...that isn't gross...I think doing stand-up for the first time last year was the last first time I did something really interesting. Anything else I've done cool was before that. The first time I did stand-up was June 30, last year (2015). It's been a really holding-my-ground year. Oh, you know what! I started a podcast (Sea Hags Podcast). That was something I started more recently.

How's that experience been so far?

It's been awesome. I'm doing it with probably my best friend, I feel like I'm married to her too. She's my creative wife. We've been recording since October, but we didn't release them until the Ides of March. March 15 was when we started releasing them. I've never tried to make something in an audio medium before.

2. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

Oh my god, I do! It was either Green Day's Dookie or Nirvana's Unplugged in New York. It was one of those but it was a very mid-90s purchase, whatever it was. I think I got them both on CD. We got our first CD player in like '95.

Oooh, on that future tip. We were way behind on the CD player thing.

My parents were yuppies. Lots of bonuses and privileges. Paid-for college education. It's pretty sweet, I recommend it to everybody. Get rich parents!

3. Have you ever seen a ghost or felt a ghost-like presence?

Holy fuck! I made a three-part blog post in 2014, on a really inactive blog, a story of what happened in the summer between grade 6 and 7. I was a very unpopular child. Anytime popular girls wanted to spend time with me, it didn't matter how much they were going to make fun of me or abuse me when were hanging out, I'd be like, “I'm coming with you!” Like Big Ethel from Riverdale High. I just wanna be included. This was 1996, the year “The Craft” came out. It was also the year this really popular movie “Now & Then” came out. Both of those movies heavily feature seances. These two popular girls from my elementary school, Ashley and Darcy, decided we were going to have a seance in the cemetary...

Here's a little bit of background for you. My elementary school shared a land parcel with the cemetary in North Delta. It was just a chain-link fence between the primary playground and, uh, Death. Just tombstones on one side and the slide and swings on the other. It was fucked up but we had that as part of our psyche growing up.

We went in there at 10 o'clock one night, in the summer, so the school's totally closed, there's nobody there and nothing's happening. So we're in the cemetery and we sit around this grave, we've got a candle and shit. We light the candle. I don't know what we said, but it wasn't any kind of “real” spell. It was more like, “Spirits, make your presence known if you're here.” And the candle started growing. It was pretty windy but it wasn't moving, just getting super tall. So the flame got to six or seven inches tall. We started freaking out. Holy fuck, we don't actually want real ghosts, we don't actually want this to be real! So we blow the candle out and go running, do a flying leap over the fence into the school grounds. We go running past where the front door is and then through to this big roundabout out front. Then we realize, “Oh shit, we didn't put the spirit back to rest. We didn't say our goodbyes and it's still oh there.” We have to send it back to the spirit world or whatever. So, we're standing on this roundabout, holding hands, “Okay spirit, we're really sorry we disturbed you but you really need to back to where you came from.” At that point, the front door of the school building opened, then slammed shut. And we took off running and screaming. It was so terrifying. There was nobody there. I don't know what happened. I never saw anything but that was the closest I've had to a ghost encounter in my life. I don't fuck with Oujia boards. I don't believe in any of it, but I believe just enough that I don't fuck with it anymore.

4. Can you think of a book or movie that had a genuine effect on the way you saw the world?

Oh man, everything I've ever seen or read in my life, ever.

Do you remember the first thing that had an effect, then?

Let me think...In childhood what really moved me? Because I didn't get into Harry Potter until I was almost 30...Something that really sticks out at me from the reading list in elementary school is this book by Gary Paulson, called Hatchet. It's about a kid who's 13 and his parents have gotten divorced and his mom was sending him off to his dad in basically the equivalent of Fort McMurry, so from the city to the boonies for the summer, and she gives him this gift of a hatchet. He's going to a super remote place and he's taking a charter plane and the plane goes down on the way. He ends up stuck in the wilderness with just that little axe on his belt. He faces natural disasters and animals and confronting mortality. I read it when I was 9, maybe, and it fucked me up realizing there will come a time when my parents won't be there to protect me and I have to fend for myself. Whether that's in a forest with a tiny axe or dealing with crazy social situations. Just realizing that, “You're alone in the world, man.” That's the first thing that comes to mind but I'm totally a big suck for everything and get really into stuff. Like Star Trek: The Next Generation is another one I was really moved by as a child. All very truth and justice and that stuff. It's all good shit.

So, what was was the last thing that got to you?

I've been watching Grace & Frankie with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. It's about how their two husbands fall in love with each other and leave them. It's all the fallout. It's a really wonderful show. All these people who were set in their ways at 70, their lives just exploded but they still love all the people around them. They love their ex-husbands and the two women start to love each other and lean on each other. It's a really lovely look at how love can change over time. It's very malleable. You can go from loving someone romantically to just loving them like a sibling or someone you spend time with. It shows that there's life after breaking up and I think it's something very little media every looks at. It's also awesome to watch two 70-year old women star in a show where their relationship is the centre of everything.

5. If you could the spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

Can I travel through time to have an experience with them at a different point in time?

No. They have to come to you, now.

Fuck. I guess that means I can't go back in time to 1993 to have sex with Jeff Goldblum during the Jurassic Park filming. Which makes me very upset because I would do that if I could. I'd love to spend time with David Bowie. It made me so sad when died. I can't even have feelings anymore about all the people dying this year but he really got to me. Actually, our mutual friend Jasta got me into him when I was 13. So it's her fault. But I've been a huge fan of his for 20 years. I would love to just pick his brain about where his creativity comes from and how he gives himself permission to do all this weird shit. I mean, besides drugs.

So much cocaine.

I would not bring cocaine to my meeting with David Bowie. I'd be like, “Hey man, don't do that cocaine.”

Do you have a favourite Bowie era?

I think the 70's is probably the best. I like the really weird, early 70's spacesman shit he was doing. I kinda got love for the weird 90's electronica shit when he was sort of way past the age where people tried new things. Like touring with Reznor and nobody liked but he just did it anyway. I would have liked it, if I wasn't 10.

6. This week's Guest Question comes from, DJ Kwe – When is the last time you listened to an entire album of just spoken word, talking?

It probably would have been a comedy album because that's probably the only thing like that I listen to, other than a book on tape. It was just Josh Gondelmon's “Physical Whisper.” It's excellent. He's the sweetest New York Jew. He's so cute and weird. You can sample it on his website. You can just stream it in the browser. Other than podcasts, that's the last full spoken-word thing I've listened to.