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Bob Elsewhere

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July 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dancer Savion Glover made his Broadway debut at the age of 10, and won a Tony for Bring in ‘D Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk when he was 23.  Glover’s latest show is Savion Glover’s OMat New York City’s Joyce Theater, and he joins Bob to talk about his life and career.  Then, director John Carney went from first-time indie filmmaker working on a tiny budget with musicians instead of actors for his film Once, to seeing his film win an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 2008 Oscars.  His new film, Begin Again, stars Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly as two people brought together through the power of music.  Begin Again opens nationwide on July 2nd.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bob talks to first time novelist Boris Fishman about “A Replacement Life.”  It’s about a struggling young writer who forges Holocaust restitution claims for Soviet Jews living in New York City.  The book is a work of fiction, but Fishman got the idea for the story after helping his grandmother, who escaped from the Minsk ghetto during World War Two, fill out her restitution claim.  Fishman wondered if people ever just made stuff up, to get the money.  So he wasn’t surprised when dozen people were indicted in 2010 for forging Holocaust stories, to the tune of $50 million.   Fishman’s novel, “A Replacement Life” imagines and humanizes people who would have done such a thing.   Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and used to be a fact checker for The New Yorker magazine.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bob talks with director Steve James about his latest documentary, Life Itself.  It tells the remarkable story of the late, great film critic Roger Ebert, and is based on his 2011 memoir of the same name. Ebert died last April following a decade-long battle with cancer.  Then, Bob talks with music blogger Paul Schomer about his latest discoveries. This time, we’ll hear new music from James Tillman, Invisible Homes, Led to Sea, Dogheart and Crocodile.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, we bring back Bob’s conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough about 1776, his book on the American Revolution.  It’s written as a companion work to John Adams, his celebrated biography of the second president, and includes research from hundreds of letters and several diaries kept by people on both sides of the conflict.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Today, T.E. Lawrence is as much myth as he was man, but the conflict in which he was involved is still relevant in our modern times.  Journalist and author Scott Anderson’sbest-selling book Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East looks at the historical impact of Lawrence’s military role.  It is now available in paperback.  Then, the film Dangerous Acts chronicles an underground theater troupe, the Belarus Free Theatre, which performs despite being barred from working for pay within the last surviving Communist dictatorship in Eastern Europe. Madeleine Sackler relied on a very brave camera person who smuggled footage out of the country and onto a plane for her.  Dangerous Acts airs today on HBO.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bob talks to Serhii Plokhy, director of Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute about his new book, The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union.  Professor Plokhy grew up in Russia, and was educated in Ukraine and the United States.  He says, contrary to the conventional wisdom in the U.S., the collapse of the Soviet Union was triggered by internal political and economic factors, not American pressure.  Then, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

 Brian Conaghan was an unlikely high school teacher.  Diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome as an adult, Conaghan spent years trying to deal with and even hide his disorder.  His new YA novel, When Mr. Dog Bites, is a funny and honest look at this misunderstood disorder.  Then, musician Glen Philips is best-known as the front man for the popular 1990s alt rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket.  After a solo career through the 2000s, Philips has reunited with Toad and they are touring this summer.  Philips talks with Bob about his work and the band’s latest album New Constellation.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ted Olson is an unlikely champion of gay marriage. He built his career as a very conservative jurist, serving two republican presidents and successfully arguing the 2000 election case that put George W. Bush in the White House. But it was Olson who led the charge to overturn Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Olson tells the story of his work on the case in a new book titled Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality.


Friday, July11, 2014

Ken Vogel is an investigative reporter for POLITICO who covers, among other things, the intersection between money and politics. His new book is titled Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp – on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics. Then, in the turbulent summer of 1964, Martha and the Vandellas sang: “Callin’ out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?” Writer Mark Kurlansky looks at the impact of that invitation in his book Ready for a Brand New Beat: How “Dancing in the Street” Became the Anthem for a Changing America and it’s available in paperback.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Bob talks to Anthony Marra about his novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which has just come out in paperback.  It was a New York Times bestseller when it was published in May 2013. This week it was shortlisted for the Pen Literary Award (for first fiction).  The novel is set in a small village in Chechnya, a breakaway republic in southern Russia during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  During these years, Russian troops abducted anyone suspected of helping or sympathizing with Chechen separatists.  Marra’s characters in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena are not the soldiers, or partisans in the war, but ordinary people doing whatever they can to survive in a war zone.  Then, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater. 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just six weeks before Linor Abargil won the Miss World competition in 1998, she was kidnapped, raped, and stabbed by an Israeli travel agent in Italy.  Filmmakers Cecilia Peck andInbal Lessner tell this story in Brave Miss World, a documentary on Abargil’s experience and her work to end sexual violence.  Brave Miss World is available on Netflix. Then, we remember world-renowned conductor Lorin Maazel.  In 2008, Bob visited Maazel’s Virginia home to speak about the opera camp he ran there, his time with the New York Philharmonic and their unusual trip to North Korea.  Lorin Maazel died Sunday at the age of 84.  


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Once identified by art historian Robert Rosenblum as the 20th century’s “most overrated and underrated artist,” Andrew Wyeth’s work has long been a polarizing force in American art.  A new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art titled Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking Inhighlights the artist’s fascination with windows.  Curator Nancy Anderson talks with Bob about Wyeth’s work and life.   Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In is open until November 30, 2014.  Then, Jolie Holland was one of the founding members of the folk band The Be Good Tanyas. She’s been described as embodying “everything weird and wonderful in the history of American music.” Her new solo albumWine Dark Sea is now out. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Documentary filmmaker Dan Cohen’s new film, Alive Inside, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.  It shows the remarkable power of music on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  Cohen talks with Bob about his film and the experiences that inspired it. The film opens tomorrow in New York City.  Then, Bob talks with Cowboy poet Baxter Black about his latest book, Poems Worth Saving, a collection of Baxter’s favorite poems he’s done over the years.


Friday, July 18, 2014

First, Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times joins us each Friday for an analysis of politics, but this week he’s offering book suggestions appropriate for your day at the beach. Then, Bob talks with director Richard Linklater about his latest movie ‘Boyhood’ which he filmed over 12 actual years. The only special effect is watching the main character grow up on screen…starting in elementary school and ending on his first day in college.  The story follows family moves, unfortunate stepfathers and broken hearts and stars newcomer Ellar Coltrane as Mason, and Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as his biological parents.


Monday, July 21, 2014

In 1969, four African American men set out to create “the pre-eminent voice for black women,” according to The New York Times.  That “voice” was Essence magazine. Bob talks to founder Edward Lewis and former executive Audrey Edwards about the magazine, its past, and their book The Man From Essence: Creating A Magazine for Black Women.  Then, Bob talks with Roger Blevins Jr.about the music of his oddly named band, Mingo Fishtrap.  They combine the sounds of Memphis and New Orleans, with a little north Texas thrown in, to create a funky sound all their own. The group’s latest album is titled On Time.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

 Armed with a notebook and binoculars, 50 years ago this month, a 26 year old Jane Goodall traveled to what is today Tanzania to study chimpanzees. Now 80 years old, and on the road 300 days of the year, Goodall is largely responsible for changing our perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals.  Goodall is the subject of the documentary Jane’s Journey, which is available online.  Then, it’s been more than twenty years since Scott Turow helped invent the legal thriller genre with his #1 bestseller, Presumed Innocent.  That book sold more than 6 ½ million copies and was on The New York Times bestseller list for 45 weeks.  Turow has remained a practicing lawyer over the years and has been very active in capital punishment reform in Illinois.  His latest suspense novel, Identical, is loosely based on the myth of the Greek god Zeus’s twin sons (one mortal and one immortal).  Identicalis now available in paperback. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When reports began that thousands of unaccompanied children were crossing the U.S. border, theArizona Republic dispatched nine reporters and photographers to Central America, Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.  In four short weeks, the paper produced a very impressive multi-part multimedia seriestitled “Pipeline of children: A border crisis.”  Bob Ortega is one of the lead reporters for the series. Then, Bob sits down with members of the Austin-based classical collective Mother Falcon for a private concert in our performance studio.  They’ll play a few songs from their latest “orchestral rock” album titled You Knew and discuss the unique challenges that face an 18-member touring band.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Director and actor Rob Reiner has either directed and/or acted in some of the most beloved movies of the 20th century.  His credits includes This Is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men, and Sleepless in Seattle.  His new film, And So It Goes, stars Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas as next door neighbors brought together by Douglas’s character’s teenage granddaughter.  And So It Goes opens nationwide tomorrow.  Then, Bob talks with The Bacon Brothers about their latest album 36 Cents.  The six-piece band features actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael, a film score composer.  Since making the band official in 1995, the Brothers have released seven albums.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, journalist James Nestor was on assignment in Greece when he saw a man dive 300 feet below the ocean’s surface on a single breath of air.  When the man returned four minutes later, Nestor decided to learn all he could about freedivers - extreme athletes who rely on their lungs instead of breathing equipment.  Nestor’s interest in humans with amphibious abilities turned into a book, Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, And What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves. Next, over 40 years ago, readers first met the fearless adventurer, marine engineer, and government agent Dirk Pitt in author Clive Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper.  A copywriter by day, Cussler started writing at night to keep himself company while his wife worked a nightshift.  His book, Zero Hour, is available in paperback. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

In 2011, 13 young women and one young man in the small town of LeRoy, New York experienced “conversion disorder,” a mysterious malady that results in uncontrollable tics, stutters and seizures.  Novelist Katherine Howe used this real-life incident as the basis for her new book, Conversion.  Then, Ernest Ranglin is a Jamaican guitarist and composer recognized as one of the pioneers of both reggae and ska. Ranglin gave Bob Marley his first hit and it’s his guitar handiwork that you hear on most reggae standards. Now 82-years-old, Ranglin is adding a new album to his discography. Bless Up is the perfect soundtrack for the summer.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Author David Baldacci’s books have sold more than 110 million copies worldwide.  Now he turns his gifted and charmed pen to writing for young people, with his first fantasy YA novel The Finisher.  Then, feminist film critic Molly Haskell wrote a memoir about her sixty year old brother, Chevey Haskell, who came out as transgendered and now lives as Ellen Hampton. Bob talks to Haskell about her brother and her book My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation, which is now available in paperback.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

 Year after year, American students rank in the bottom third in international rankings of math and science scores. In reading, the U.S. doesn’t even make the top ten, trailing Canada and Estonia among others.  In her book, investigative journalist, Amanda Ripley, follows the lives of three American exchange students who spent a year studying in countries that consistently receive the highest marks to find out why children in Finland, Poland, and South Korea do so well.  Ripley book is titled The Smartest Kids in the World and it’s available in paperback.  Then, we remember NPR correspondent Margot Adler.  Bob talked to Adler earlier this year about her book Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side.  Marot Adler died Monday at the age of 68.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bob talks to Washington Post National Security editor Peter Finn, and translator/writer Petra Couvee about their new book, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book.  Then, Bob talks to director Tate Taylor, and actor Chadwick Boseman about their new film, Get on Up.  It’s about the Godfather of soul, James Brown.