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Bob Elsewhere

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February 2009


February 7-8, 2009




  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed into law in 1993 to protect the rights of workers who need to take time off for medical reasons. But currently almost half of Americans do not qualify for that leave and of those who do, most opt not to take it because they simply can’t afford it. Bob investigates the challenges of how workers maintain their households when they or a family member get sick -- and how legal changes implemented last month by the outgoing Bush administration actually make those challenges even more difficult. We’ll hear from advocates for workers, the business community, and workers themselves as a part of this special feature.




  • When Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal's brother was killed in Iraq, the artist channeled the experience into a performance piece. For a month, Bilal lived alone in an art studio -- in the line of fire of a remote-controlled paintball gun. A camera connected him to the internet where people could watch him – chat with him and shoot at him - 24 hours a day. The piece was titled "Domestic Tension" and The Chicago Tribune called it "one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time." In 1992, Bilal came to the US where he became a professor, artist and now author. His new book is called Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun.
  • Bob talks with our music reviewer Anthony DeCurtis about a new collection of CDs titled Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement. The three-CD set was released in the week between Barack Obama's inauguration and the start of Black History Month.


February 14-15, 2009




  • Washington Post Book World editor Rachel Shea talks with Bob about the Post's recent decision to close down the print version of Book World. This weekend will be it's last as a stand alone section in the paper.


  • In honor of the 200th birthday of naturalist Charles Darwin, professor of molecular biology and author Sean B. Carroll talks to Bob about his latest book Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species. The book recounts the journeys of pioneering naturalists, from Darwin to Charles Walcott.


  • The full title of Charles Darwin's most famous book is, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin was raised by abolitionists and it's believed that his hatred of slavery helped shape his theory of evolution. Darwin's Sacred Cause is one of several books being published this month to mark Darwin's bicentennial. Bob speaks with the book's author, science historian James Moore.




  • Singer-songwriter Graham Nash has released a boxed set for the first time in his career. It features four decades of music from his solo career, his work with The Hollies and with Crosby, Stills and Young. Reflections also feature several previously unissued tracks.


  • February 3rd marked Felix Mendelssohn's 200th birthday and Sirius XM classical music host Martin Goldsmith explains why Mendelssohn is a composer worth celebrating.


February 21-22, 2009




  • Bob talks with LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan for his picks in this year's Academy Awards.


  • Bernhard Schlink's 1995 novel The Reader told the haunting story of a teenage boy and an older woman in post-war Berlin. It has remained one of the most-read novels in modern history, having been translated into 40 languages. Part mystery, part love story, part historical confession, The Reader asks the question, "How far would you go to protect a secret?" The book now comes to the big screen, directed by Stephen Daldry and starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. It has received 5 Oscar nominations.


  • It was a song that John Steinbeck called "immortal;" "Lili Marlene" started as a German love song and through a strange turn of events was adopted by both sides as the unofficial anthem of WW II. Writers Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller recounts its history in Lili Marlene: The Soldier's Song of World War II.




  • This is Spinal Tap was the first in a long-line of "mockumentaries" for Christopher Guest, including Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. That last one poked fun at folk music, something Guest knows a lot about. Guest plays the mandolin, mandocello, clarinet and guitar. And Guest's band, the Beyman Brothers, is releasing its very first album this month. Guest and band mate David Nichtern talk about the release, Memories of Summer as a Child and then Bob talks movies with Guest.


  • Jeff Campbell runs a non-profit organization called Hungry for Music which provides musical instruments to disadvantaged children across the country. He funds much of this charitable work with proceeds from the CDs of baseball music he puts together. Campbell has just released another disc in the series he calls Diamond Cuts. This is the 10th installment titled Extra Innings.


February 28-March 1




  • In So Much Damn Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government, Robert Kaiser explains how things really work in Washington today—and why they largely don’t.



  • The Black List: Volume 2 is the name of a new HBO documentary which features interviews with sixteen prominent African Americans about what it's like to be black in America. Film critic serves as the interviewer, talking candidly with Laurence Fishburne, Angela Davis, Charley Pride, Maya Rudolph and 12 others. Mitchell joins Bob to talk about the film.Elvis Mitchell




  • Louis Ferrante fought his way up the mafia ranks, earning himself a spot in the Gambino clan. Then, as an inmate in federal prison, he experienced the thrill of a great piece of literature. Bob talks to Ferrante about his memoir, Unlocked: A Journey from Prison to Proust, and why he changed the names to "protect the innocent and conceal the guilty."


  • Bob talks to Alex Ellis about his youth outreach program Tied to Greatness, which enlists successful African-American men in the community to connect with and mentor black high school boys in need of positive role models.


  • There are 7,000 languages in the world. But by the end of the century, half will disappear. David Harrison studies languages that are dying. He travels to the most remote parts of the world to find and interview the last known speakers of languages like Chulym, Sora and Kallawaya. Many of the languages Harrison studies are spoken by fewer than a dozen people. His quest is told in a documentary called The Linguists. Bob is joined in the studio by one of the linguists featured in the documentary, David Harrison, along with two of the film's three directors, Jeremy Newburger and Seth Kramer. They explain why documenting dying languages is important.