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December 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Long before pay-per-view, the WWE and Hulk Hogan, the world of professional wrestling was like the Wild West. And Memphis was its Dodge City. A new documentary from director Chad Schaffler tells the story of Memphis wrestling, from the carnival days of Sputnik Monroe, to integration, female wrestlers, and Jerry “The King” Lawler, who famously wrestled Andy Kauffman. The film is titled, Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’. Then, we’ll visit a professional wrestling school in West Memphis, Arkansas that carries on the tradition of regional training and performances.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, in February 2008, Steve Kazmierczak opened fire and killed five fellow students before shooting himself at Northern Illinois University.  Author David Vann gained access to the police files to profile that killer, as well as describe his own contemplated shooting, in Last Day on Earth: a Portrait of the NIU School Shooter. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of John Warley. When Warley’s children were young, his family almost broke apart in divorce. That close call taught him to cherish the too-short time when everyone slept safely under the same roof, before sleepovers, curfews and college cast his kids into the wider world.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Michael Ondaatje is the author of five novels, including The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost.  He joins Bob in studio to discuss his most recent, The Cat’s Table, the tale of an eleven-year-old boy aboard a ship in the 1950s traveling from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to London – a trip Ondaatje also made as a young boy.  Then, Charles Bracelen Flood tells the story of Ulysses S. Grant’s last year alive.  Facing financial ruin and terminal illness, Grant overcame incredible pain to write his memoirs.  Grant’s memoirs became an instant bestseller, saved his family from destitution, and helped cure the nation of bitter discord.  Flood’s account is called Grant’s Final Victory.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This year marks the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary and ever since President Kennedy issued the call to serve, young Americans have responded.  But so have older Americans. Barbara Joe is 73-years-old and  she was a health volunteer in Honduras from 1999 to 2003. Every February, she returns annually to Honduras to volunteer with a medical brigade, help kids with scholarships, check in with the community volunteers trained in Peace Corps, and assist a rehab center and a residential school for the blind. Then, in a new book, House of Cash: The Life, Legacy and Archives of The Man in Black, the only son of Johnny Cash and June Carter tells the family story as only he knows it. John Carter Cash discusses his memoir which also features a large number of unpublished photographs, poetry, sketches, songs from master tapes dating back to the mid-50s and much more. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Director Tomas Alfredson’s film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy takes audiences into the heart of the Cold War intrigue and hypocrisy that dominated Britain’s intelligence world in the 1970s.  Based on the novel by John le Carre, actor Gary Oldman plays MI6 officer George Smiley as he struggles to identify the enemy in the murky landscape of double crossings. Then, Sirius XM classical music host Martin Goldsmith explains some of George Frideric Handel’s musical trickery in his masterpiece “The Messiah.” For this festive season, Goldsmith presents programming on ‘Holiday Pops,’ Sirius XM channel 75 until December 26. 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Peter Van Buren has written a decidedly undiplomatic account of the year he spent as a diplomat in Iraq.  His book is titled We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.  Van Buren describes his project as “career suicide” and indeed some of his former colleagues have skewered the book.  Said one, “If you felt that strongly about policies you feel are misguided and harmful, you do the honorable thing and resign before tearing your colleagues apart in public.” Then, Dan Gediman discusses the essays in the new book, This I Believe: Life Lessons.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, last year, the conservative talk show host Glenn Beck regularly singled out an obscure academic calling her an enemy of the Constitution. Frances Fox Piven, Beck warned, was after a progressive take-down of America and was responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.” The newfound attention from Beck sent Piven’s books to bestseller lists, but she also received hundreds of death threats from Beck listeners. The interest in Piven was rooted in an article she wrote with her husband, Richard Cloward, in 1966, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.” Now her research and writings have been collected in an updated book, Who’s Afraid of Frances Fox Piven? The Essential Writings of the Professor Glenn Beck Loves to Hate.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Sudie Bond Noland. When Noland was a teenager, the car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver. He was sentenced to prison and she was left with chronic, painful injuries. More than that, Noland realized that the prison sentence did not bring her closure. That only came later, when she was able to find compassion for the drunk driver and forgive him for his actions.


Monday, December 12, 2011

For his book Arrows of the Night: Ahmad Chalabi’s Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq, Richard Bonin, a producer for CBS News’ 60 Minutes, had unprecedented access to Chalabi – conducting over 60 hours of interviews – as well as access to his family, advisors, and compound in post-war Iraq.  The book has been praised as the best-researched, most readable narrative about how a small group of people caused the United States to wage a war that was unnecessary, and worse, counter-productive. Bonin talks with Bob about Chalabi’s ingenious, decades-long effort to lure the U.S. government into a disastrous nine-year war. Then, the former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, joins Bob to talk about his new work of fiction, Blink of an Eye, as well as all-things-foreign-policy.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In August, U.S. Attorney from Minnesota, B. Todd Jones, was named the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after details of a controversial procedure known as “Operation Fast and Furious” was revealed.  That ATF operation was aimed at major gun-trafficking networks in the Southwest, but resulted in two thousand semi-automatic weapons being released into the hands of criminals.  Several of the guns have been recovered at violent crime scenes in Mexico and more than a thousand are still unaccounted for. Jones discusses the practice, known as “gun-walking” and other ATF efforts to fight violent crime.  Then, our resident folklorists Steve Winick and Nancy Groce from the American Folklife Center share songs and speech having to do with the theme “Brothers and Sisters.”


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In 1887 a medical doctor named Arthur Conan Doyle published four stories about a brilliant and eccentric detective named Sherlock Holmes.  Thus began the public’s obsession with Holmes, spawning stories, movies, games, and more.  Award-winning Sherlockians Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger are editors of A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, a new collection of Holmes stories from contemporary authors.  Then, 16 years ago, Portland, Oregon resident Thomas Lauderdale created Pink Martini, a “little orchestra” of Portland-based musicians with a global sound. Their album, Joy to the World, is collection of holiday songs. 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Randall Kennedy is one of this country’s leading thinkers.  He teaches law at Harvard and comments extensively on race, politics, and our judicial system.  His latest book is The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency.  Then, husband and wife public radio hosts and syndicated columnists Joe and Terry Graedon are back with a new book called Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.  Each year, more than six million people are harmed by doctor errors, prescription mistakes and diagnostic disasters – and about a hundred thousand hospital patients die every year from preventable medical errors – including Joe Graedon’s own mother.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Jerry Lewis is one of the last living comedic legends of the 20th century, influencing the biggest names in contemporary comedy.  Director Gregg Barson’s new documentary Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, debuting on Encore on December 17th, features interviews with Carol Burnett, Chevy Chase, Jerry Seinfeld and others, along with behind-the-scenes interviews with Lewis to give viewers a unique perspective of this now-85 year old comedian.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Susan Hall.  Her son was born with a disorder that has stalled his cognitive development, but nothing has limited his love of music. Hall’s home is a warehouse of electronic keyboards, and her son’s favorite activity is to play along with the tunes programmed into the keyboards. Hall says the musical playtime allows her to accomplish household chores, but it also opens a window of connection she wouldn’t otherwise have with her son.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Scholar, writer, and BBC host Adam Nicolson is the author of the book God’s Secretaries: the Making of the King James Bible.  Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, the Bible has—more than any other book in English—shaped our language and beliefs.  Then, Bob goes backstage at the Music Box Theater in New York where actress Kim Cattrall is starring in a Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives.  Cattrall is best known for her role as Samantha in the HBO series Sex and the City.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Internationally renowned pianist Lang Lang is one of the world’s leading interpreters of Franz Liszt.  To honor Liszt’s 200th birthday this year, Lang Lang recorded a collection of his favorite compositions for his album Liszt: My Piano Hero.  Then, it’s time for our annual visit with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis.  He’ll share his picks for the best CDs of 2011, just in time to include on your holiday shopping list.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

William Joyce is the author and illustrator of many beloved children’s books, including George Shrinks and Rolie Polie Olie, both of which are Emmy Award winning TV shows.  He is also a commercial illustrator whose has graced multiple New Yorker covers and a filmmaker who contributed to Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Robots.   His most recent book, The Man in the Moon, is the first in a series called The Guardians of Childhood.  Joyce is currently directing an animated film version of the series for DreamWorks Animation.  Then, country musician Mandy Barnett talks with Bob about adding her powerhouse vocals to the holiday music repertoire with a new album titled Winter Wonderland.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dan O’Keefe was a writer on Seinfeld when he decided to incorporate some O’Keefe family traditions into the show’s plot-less plot. And that’s how America found out about Festivus.  O’Keefe reminisces about his unique upbringing and the vision his father, who founded the holiday for “the rest-of-us,” had for it.  Then, Bob speaks with the man who personified Festivus, Jerry Stiller.  Stiller is half of the legendary comedy duo Stiller & Meara and he’s joined by his wife, Anne Meara.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, The Art Museum is being hailed as an art book like no other. Much heavier and larger than any coffee table book, The Art Museum would be better suited for its own viewing stand. Amanda Renshaw, spent 10 years on the project, choosing close to 3,000 works to guide the reader through 30,000 years of art. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Becky Sun. Most kids believe in Santa Claus, and lose their faith as they get older.  Sun has followed the opposite trajectory. An early childhood disappointment had her convinced Santa didn’t exist — a belief she held into adulthood. Then a friend with a big heart and a bearded father helped change her mind.


Monday, December 26, 2011

All week we’re welcoming new Sirius XM subscribers to our show with some of Bob’s best 2011 interviews. We start with Bob’s favorite poetry interviews.  First, Caroline Kennedy is best-known as the only daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but she is also a well respected author and book editor.  In her poetry collection titled She Walks in Beauty, Kennedy focused on poems that celebrate and honor womanhood.  Then, Rita Dove is one of the greatest living American poets. She is a former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner.  Most recently she edited The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Dove joins Bob to talk about what she feels is the most important poetry of the previous hundred years.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today we replay some of Bob’s best interviews about art.  Few sculptors can claim the renown and success that Richard Serra has achieved in his forty year career.  But an exhibit recently shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City titled Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective focused on Serra’s skills on paper, a segment of his work often overlooked by the public.  This is the first retrospective of Serra’s drawings and shows the varied abilities of this visionary artist.  Then, artist and children’s book illustrator Allen Say won the Caldecott medal for The Boy of the Three-Year Nap (1987) and Grandfather’s Journey (1994).  The latter is about his grandfather’s voyage from Japan to the U.S. and back again.  Say’s latest book is Drawing from Memory, an autobiographical account of his own journey as an artist. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We continue to welcome our new Sirius XM subscribers with some of Bob’s best interviews of 2011. Today’s focus is on the foreign affairs. Africa has a new country: the Republic of South Sudan.  After decades of fighting for independence, southern Sudan seceded on July 9th.  Co-founder of The Enough Project, John Prendergast, was in the country to observe the volatile split, where the predominantly Muslim north still disagrees with the predominantly Christian south on how to divide their oil-rich border.  Prendergast will describe what he saw, discussions with local leaders, and why war crimes are feared.  Then, the conflict in the Eastern Congo is one of the worst in history, where more than 5.5 million people have perished and it’s the most dangerous place in the world for women and children.  While “blood diamonds” were infamous in other parts of Africa, in the eastern Congo, it’s “conflict minerals” which are mined for use in cell phones and laptops.  Actress Robin Wright is an advocate for the victims in the region and she joins Fidel Bafilemba of the Enough Project to discuss their trip. 


Thursday, December 29, 2011

We welcome new subscribers today with two of Bob’s favorite music interviews from this year. First, actor, comedian, writer and musician Steve Martin talks with Bob about his second album Rare Bird Alert, a follow-up to 2009’s Grammy-winning The Crow. Martin is joined on the album by his backing band The Steep Canyon Rangers, with special guests The Dixie Chicks and Paul McCartney singing a couple of Martin’s original tunes.  Then, Ben Sollee is a “folk-pop” cellist from Lexington, Kentucky who’s played with Bela Fleck, My Morning Jacket and Justin Townes Earle. Sollee chats with Bob about his second album Inclusions, bicycling cross-country (with cello attached), and his passion to end mountain top removal coal mining.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Our week-long welcome to new subscribers concludes today with our regular news analyst.  Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Sally Wade, George Carlin’s “spouse without papers” for the last ten years of his life, discusses her 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.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Michelle Lee. Like conversation, the act of writing thank you notes is a lost art. Anyone who expects more than a text message reading “thx” in response to a kindness is setting themselves up for disappointment. Which might be why Lee is so popular with friends and family. She says good manners are the cornerstone of a quality community, and she puts her belief into practice by writing thank you notes every Monday.