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Bob Edwards Weekend - July 2011

July 2-3


Each year about one million people renounce the country of their birth and swear allegiance to the United States of America.  A few years ago, one of those new American citizens was filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi’s Dutch-born husband, Michiel Vos.   “I can’t be a foreigner in my own family,” Pelosi recalls her husband saying. His story inspired Pelosi to travel the country attending naturalization ceremonies and hearing the stories of brand-new Americans. Her film, Citizen USA: A 50 State Road Trip premiers July 4th on HBO.

Filmmaker Cindy Meehl discusses the new documentary Buck, the story of a real life “horse whisperer.”  Cowboy Buck Brannaman travels the country “helping horses with people problems.”  Meehl will discuss the horseman, his background, and his infectious life philosophies.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Joan Skiba.  She grew up in a military family, and Skiba was a perfect patriot. As a young woman in the 1960s, she served as a nurse in Vietnam, treating wounded soldiers. That experience taught her about the dangers of patriotism. Skiba says that a true patriot should celebrate her country, but question the decisions of her government. 


Bob goes inside the world of ESPN with author James Miller. He’s co-written a history and a behind-the-scenes look at everyone’s favorite cable sports network called Those Guys Have All the Fun. The ESPN story is told through interviews with more than 500 people, including founders, current and former anchors, athletes and fans.

Bob talks with Ricky McKinnie, Joey Williams and founding member of The Blind Boys of Alabama Jimmy Carter about the group’s career and latest CD of country gospel songs. Take the High Road features guest appearances by The Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams Jr., Vince Gill and Willie Nelson.


July 9-10


Over 100 years after his death, Frederick Law Olmsted is still America’s most famous and influential landscape architect.  The designer of Central Park, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and many other notable projects, Olmsted was also a conservationist, fighting to preserve Niagara Falls and Yosemite for future generations.  Biographer Justin Martin details his life in Genius of Place: the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted: Abolitionist, Conservationist, and Designer of Central Park. book critic and Bob Edwards Show regular Laura Miller returns to recommend some of the best books of the summer for the long hot days ahead.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of English professor Kristin Kelly.  She is in love with the tools of her trade, the way a carpenter might collect chisels, or an artist might gather brushes, Kelly buys books. Her father taught her to love books, and now Kelly spends much of her extra cash — to own what she calls “pieces of heavenly art.”


While some notable big city newspapers shrink and fail, many rural weeklies are thriving. Award-winning journalist Judy Muller shares some big stories from small towns and talks with Bob about her new book Emus Loose in Egnar. Muller is also a journalism professor at the University of Southern California.

The number of African American baseball players in the major leagues has plummeted since peaking in 1975, but the opposite is true for Latinos. They are playing the game in record numbers and represent a full quarter of big-league rosters.  Sports historian, professor and author Rob Ruck examines why blacks, who led the fight to integrate baseball, have now largely left the game. His new book is titled Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game.


July 16-17


In May of 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and women boarded a plane for a sightseeing trip over “Shangri-La,” a mysterious valley on the island of New Guinea. It was supposed to be a morale-building pleasure tour but the plane crashed killing all but three. Badly injured and unequipped for the jungle, the survivors set out to try to find help and instead found a primitive, cannibalistic tribe. Mitchell Zuckoff tells this true story of survival, adventure and rescue in his new book Lost in Shangri-La.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Reverend Dr. John M. Buchanan.  He is the pastor of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. Buchanan has found new meaning in the biblical assertion that God created humankind in His image as he has observed his granddaughter, who has Down syndrome. She participates in sports, theater and the church. For Buchanan, her success in life is proof that every person deserves respect and has something of the sacred within them.


Thirty years before Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, there was Joyce McKinney, a beauty queen whose antics often landed her on the front page of the gossip rags. Unlike most of today’s celebs du jour McKinney had an IQ of 168, but her behavior was just as bad and often much more bizarre. In his new film, Tabloid, director Errol Morris tells the story of McKinney’s strange odyssey in pursuit of a love interest – cloned dogs, magic underwear, and celestial sex included. Roger Ebert says, “If Tabloid is a love story, it is one only Errol Morris could film.” Morris’ previous films include The Fog of War, Fast, Cheap & Out of Control and Standard Operating Procedure.

Bob talks with Lucinda Williams about her music career and about her on-stage marriage to her manager and co-producer. Many of Williams best known songs are marked by raw, brutal honesty about relationships gone wrong. Her latest CD is titled Blessed and features two sweet, love songs about her new husband, Tom Overby.


July 23-24 


Jimmy Buffett is like a pied piper, but with a guitar, leading his Coral Reefer Band and his legion of fans known as Parrot Heads. Bob visits with Buffett in the state of mind called Margaritaville to talk about the song, his many commercial enterprises, the satellite radio channel and about his connection to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Lex Urban.  He believes in living for the moment. Choosing to follow his interests, no matter the naysayers, has been fruitful for him. Urban was the captain of his college tennis team, and after graduation, chose service to others instead of chasing the almighty dollar. His experience with AmeriCorp helped shape his opinion about the important things in life.


Five foreigners, including an American, were pardoned by the Somali government last week after being arrested in May for bringing millions of dollars into the country to pay a ransom to Somali pirates. The UN estimates more than $110 million has been paid just in the last year. Jay Bahadur spent a year in Somalia infiltrating the remote pirate havens of the war-ravaged country. His book, The Pirates of Somalia, is a first ever, close-up look into the lives of these men —— how they live, how they spend the ransom money, how they treat the hostages, and the forces that created piracy in Somalia. 

Director Chris Weitz talks with Bob about his latest film A Better Life.  This unsentimental drama focuses on a Mexican immigrant illegally living in Los Angeles and struggling to provide his son with opportunities he never enjoyed himself.


July 30-31


Jonathan Fox is the founder of Playback Theater, an improvisational experience in which members of the audience tell personal stories, and witness performers act out those stories on the spot. Human rights groups, organizations that help the homeless, and disaster recovery groups have all hosted Playback performances. Playback Theater began in 1975, and now there are troupes all over the world, including the United States, Germany, Australia, Britain, Japan, and Brazil.  Then we’ll hear part of a performance of a Playback Theater company in Memphis. That city struggles with racial and economic segregation, and earlier this year Playback visited a community center that seeks to build bridges between different groups.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Nancy Pieters Mayfield.  She says there’s nothing as satisfying as a job well done. In college, she spent her summers cleaning rooms at a luxury hotel. At first, she did the bare minimum, until the career maids scolded her and showed her how to take pride in her work. Mayfield’s strong work ethic carried over into her career as a journalist.


Sally Wade, George Carlin’s “spouse without papers” for the last ten years of his life, discusses her new book about their life together. It’s called The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade.  A comedy writer and performer, Wade’s humorous account of their love story shows the softer side of George Carlin and features notes and letters that the two wrote to each other daily over the course of their relationship.

Words are like Lego blocks. You can use them to build whatever you want, from a stark, utilitarian structure to a silly convoluted mess. John Pollack celebrates the silly side in his latest book, The Pun Also Rises. Pollack has been punning all of his life, and in 1995, he won the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. In the book, Pollack says that puns have been around since the dawn of written language, and that word play is an instrumental part of human history. 

Bob Edwards Weekend is heard on XM 121 & Sirius 205 on Saturdays from 7-9 AM EST.

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