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Bob Elsewhere

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December 2010


Wednesday, December 1, 2010  

When writer and Classics teacher Tom Payne noticed that his students were more interested in the current celebrity scandal then in Homer’s epic poetry, he started weaving in millennia old themes of Fame and Celebrity into his lectures.  Are our celebrities today akin to the deity of ancient times?  Payne examines the similarities in his book Fame: What the Classics Tell Us About our Cult of Celebrity. Then, Richard Pryor was one of the most gifted and controversial personalities in the comedy world. Today would have been Pryor’s 70th birthday, and to honor his life and career, Bob speaks with Sonny Fox, host of ‘Funny in the Morning’ on Sirius XM ‘s Raw Dog Comedy (Sirius 104, XM 150.)


Thursday, December 2, 2010 

Michael Krasny’s latest book is Spiritual Envy: an Agnostic’s Quest.  In trying to answer some of life’s most difficult questions, Krasny, a public radio host and an English Professor at San Francisco State University, pulls from science, religion and literature writers along with his own beliefs and observations.  Then, Todd Hoffman is the unlikely star of Gold Rush, a new series by the Discovery Channel.  Hoffman and a small team of men left their home state of Oregon for Alaska’s gold rich mountains and a chance to change their fortunes.  Premieres Friday, December 3rd at 10PM Eastern on the Discovery Channel.


Friday, December 3, 2010 

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, Bob speaks with noted American author Paul Auster about Sunset Park.  Auster’s new novel deals with coincidence, alienation, and even the current housing crisis.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Reg Stark. He is a native Texan who works as a full-time artist now that he’s retired. Stark and his wife Linda were married for 43 years before she died, but he’s kept a connection to her in an unexpected way. He has continued the habit she had of picking up discarded or forgotten pennies, and now he has so many that he’s lost count. They’re pennies from heaven, he says, and many times he has felt some force steering him to the next one.


Monday, December 6, 2010  

We continue our Nashville series Music City Mondays with Craig Havighurst, author of Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City. He discusses the history of the Nashville radio station launched 85 years ago and still going strong today. Then we visit WSM’s historic and unique broadcasting tower for a tour from chief engineer Jason Cooper. The station’s studios were damaged in Nashville’s May flood and WSM has been broadcasting from a cramped building at the tower for the past seven months.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010 

Photographer Danny Clinch has spent his career connecting the realms of visual and sonic art. Through collaborations with musicians like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and James Brown, Clinch explores the intrinsic link between music and images. Then, in 1968, the female employees of the Ford car plant in Dagenham, England walked out after years of sexual discrimination.  Director Nigel Cole captured this women’s revolution in his new film Made in Dagenham, with actress Sally Hawkins playing the main agitator. 


Wednesday, December 8, 2010  

First, when Siegfried Hecker was invited to tour North Korea’s nuclear complex last month, he expected to see a couple dozen garage-shop operations. Instead, with jaw-dropped, he was shown an ultra-modern uranium enrichment facility with the potential to make nuclear bomb material.  The former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, this was Hecker’s fourth trip to North Korea. Hecker speaks with Bob about his findings and what he feels are North Korea’s true nuclear capabilities. Then, in the first 20 months of the Obama administration, the CIA conducted at least 126 drone attacks in Pakistan—nearly triple the Bush administration’s total. PW Singer has written about the ethical and psychological effects of robotic warfare. Singer points out that the pilots who are controlling the robotic planes can go from killing enemy combatants to sitting down to eat dinner with their kids in a matter of 20 minutes.


Thursday, December 9, 2010  

A few years ago, Ted Gup, a former investigative reporter for the Washington Post, opened his grandfather’s old suitcase to discover a remarkable 77 year old secret.  Gup writes about it in his new book A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness—and a Trove of Letters—Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression.  Then, Buzzy Martin is a musician and guitar teacher who gave lessons in an unusual place to some very unorthodox students. Martin took the position of Guitar Teacher at San Quentin State Prison in California and wrote an account of his experiences changing lives through music. His book is titled Don’t Shoot, I’m the Guitar Man.


Friday, December 10, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, with no budget but a lot of good ideas, first-time filmmaker Damien Chazelle found a way to make Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a contemporary take on the old Hollywood musical.  After topping a number of Best Undistributed Films for 2009, the film opens today in select cities.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Cindy Lollar.  She is a writer living in College Park, Maryland. Lollar and her partner Greta have been together for almost 25 years. She says that all the struggles they have faced and overcome together allowed them to feel married, long before they were allowed to legally marry. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

We begin part four of our Nashville series Music City Mondays with Ray Stevens in his studio on Music Row. Stevens is best known for novelty songs like “Gitarzan” and “The Streak,” but he also won Grammy Awards for “Everything is Beautiful” and for his country arrangement on the jazz standard “Misty.” Then we take a trip out of town to the Loveless Barn for an evening of live music. Every Wednesday night, Craig Havighurst and Jim Lauderdale co-host Music City Roots. Bob talks with them about their duties on the old-fashioned variety show and we also interview the program’s co-founders, Todd Mayo and John Walker.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In 2008, Jeff Sharlet published a book called The Family about a religious movement, known to some as the Fellowship, where piety, politics and corruption meet. Sharlet now has a follow up titled C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. In the book, Sharlet explains the comings and goings inside the Fellowship residence known by its Washington address and home to some of the most powerful men in Congress.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Annie Griffiths has one of the most enviable jobs there is. She was one of the first woman photographers for National Geographic, a job that has taken her to hundreds of countries over the past three decades. Griffiths dug deeply into the Society’s archive and has collected some of their most memorable photographs, many of which have never been seen, in a new book titled Simply Beautiful Photographs. Then, Bob & Ray were a comedy duo who began on local radio in Boston in the 1940’s.  Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding enjoyed tremendous national success for decades until Ray’s death in 1990.  Their last producer was Larry Josephson, who is now the curator of their sound archive and founder of the Radio Foundation. Josephson discusses the new boxed, 5-hour, 4-CD collection of classic Bob & Ray routines.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

It’s been fifteen years since Sherwin Nuland published his national bestseller, How We Die. He won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize when the book was initially published. A new edition is now out including a chapter on end-of-the-life issues in the 21st century. Then, Bob talks with Elizabeth Cook about the music from her latest CD “Welder” and about hosting her own show on satellite radio. Cook hosts “Apron Strings” on Outlaw Country, Sirius Channel 63 and XM Channel 12.


Friday, December 17, 2010

David Broder is off this week, so Susan Davis, congressional correspondent for National Journal joins Bob to discuss recent political news. Next, Kevin Spacey starred in “The Usual Suspects,” “LA Confidential” and “American Beauty.” Now he portrays Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack.” He discusses the film, his famous impressions, and the director, George Hickenlooper, who passed away in early November. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Lawrence Kessenich. He is a writer living in Massachusetts. As a teenager in the 1960s, Kessenich disagreed with his father over political issues. But he learned from his father’s example in the Catholic church to work on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged. Kessenich now tithes and leads anti-violence workshops in prisons.


Monday, December 20, 2010

We continue our Nashville series Music City Mondays with Marshall Chapman at the Country Music Hall of Fame. She was there to share her new CD Big Lonesome and her new book, They Came to Nashville, with her fans. Then Bob talks with writer Susan Gregg Gilmore at Belle Meade Plantation, the inspiration for the setting of her latest novel The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Terry Mazany is the interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, the third largest district in the country. When he was appointed in November, Mazany immediately announced that he will not keep the post after a new mayor is elected in 2011. Mazany has a background in school administration, and he’s the CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, which has given $50 million to the schools. Bob talks with Mazany about his top priorities over the next 20 months, the most pressing issues facing the district, and collaborating with the teachers’ union.  Then, it’s time for our annual tradition of helping you give the gift of good music for the holidays. Bob talks with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis about his list of the best CDs of the year.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Screenwriter and children’s novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce’s book Framed, about art theft in a small Welsh village, is a new Masterpiece Contemporary movie airing December 26th on PBS.  Then, 15 years ago, Portland, Oregon resident Thomas Lauderdale created Pink Martini, a “little orchestra” of Portland-based musicians with a global sound. Their latest album, Joy to the World, is collection of holiday songs. 


Thursday, December 23, 2010

David Balakrishnan and Mark Summer are the two founding members of The Turtle Island Quartet.  Along with members Mads Tolling and Jeremy Kittel, they join Bob in-studio for a perf-chat to discuss their latest recording Have You Ever Been…?, which is an homage to Jimi Hendrix. Then, Sirius XM classical music host Martin Goldsmith explains some of George Frideric Handel’s musical trickery in his masterpiece “The Messiah.”


Friday, December 24, 2010

Susan Davis of National Journal joins Bob for a discussion of politics as the 111th US Congress adjourns. Next, Bob and Dan Gediman talk about the new book, This I Believe: On Love.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Laura Durham.  She lives in Salt Lake City where she works for several arts organizations including the Utah Arts Council. She also sings with the Utah Chamber Artists. Durham writes about an event in grade school that helped her learn to be gracious to others, and accept graciousness from others — whether she’s earned it or not.


Monday, December 27, 2010

We conclude our Nashville series Music City Mondays with a visit to musician Marty Stuart’s personal museum of country music memorabilia.  He shows us artifacts such as Johnny Cash’s first ever black suit, Patsy Cline’s final pair of boots and the handwritten lyrics for some of Hank Williams’ biggest hits.  Stuart’s latest CD Ghost Train is up for two Grammy Awards.  Then Bob invites you to his dream musical dinner party at Suzi Ragsdale’s house in Nashville.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Carol Coletta is the leader of CEOs for Cities, a national group based in Chicago that works to improve the quality of life in urban areas. When we visited Chicago in early December, they were holding a Connectivity Challenge, a conference that explores ways to encourage Chicagoans to get around the city without owning a car. One of the experts was Jan Gehl. Gehl is an internationally respected architect based in Copenhagen. He has worked around the world to make cities “sweeter to people,” beginning with his hometown and including Melbourne and New York City. After consulting with Gehl, New York closed Times Square to cars and began adding more bike lanes. Gehl says that if people in cities walk or bike more often, those cities become livelier, healthier, safer, and greener. Then, Bob talks with Jim Lehrer, host of PBS NewsHour and his former co-host Robert MacNeil. MacNeil began the nightly news report in 1975 with Lehrer as the Washington correspondent. It evolved into the NewsHour with both men hosting until MacNeil retired in 1995. 


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

“A novel is a great act of passion and intellect, carpentry and largess,” writes Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline and other best-sellers. Now Conroy writes about the books that shaped him, the books in which he found solace, the books that made him want to become a writer, the books he says saved his life. It’s called My Reading Life. Then, Peter Sokolowski is the Editor-at-Large for Merriam-Webster where he is responsible for the Word of the Day.  He’ll discuss the most looked-up words of the year, why they’re noteworthy, and their historical meaning.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

In his most recent book, Ted Fishman documents the economic and political consequences of an aging population. Before long, there will be more people in the world over the age of 50 than under the age of seventeen. In Shock of Gray, Fishman discusses what that change means for industry, workers, and retirement. Then, David Rohde and Kristen Mulvihill are husband and wife and the authors of A Rope And a Prayer, a dual account of the seven months in 2008 that Rohde, a New York Times reporter, was held hostage by the Taliban in Pakistan.


Friday, December 31, 2010

David Broder is away this week so Bob talks about politics and other news with Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times. Next, Bob speaks with Larry King at his favorite hangout, Nate ‘n Al Delicatessen in Beverly Hills. On December 16th, King stepped down as host of his show after 25 years. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Priya Chandrasekaran.  She is a doctoral student in Cultural Anthropology at The Graduate Center, CUNY and an instructor at Hunter College and Pratt Institute. When Chandrasekaran’s grandmother died, she used her old garments to create a new quilt. Transforming the old fabric into something new helped her to honor her grandmother and carry on her spirit.