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Bob Elsewhere

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June 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

There’s a good chance you’re sitting at one as you read this.  Cubicles, whether we like it or not, are part of many of our jobs.  Writer Nikil Saval looks at the week-day setting of many of our lives in his new book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace.  Then, as the daughter of the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art during the 1960s and ‘70s, Gabrielle Selz grew up surrounded by most famous artists of the day.  Now a writer, Selz looks back on the art and artists of her childhood in her new memoir Unstill Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

For your summer reading enjoyment, we feature authors whose books have just been released in paperback.  First, in Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, readers learn that the star of two best-selling books and two hit movies is now a mother of two and—gasp—a widow.  Author Helen Fielding joins Bob to discuss her most famous creation, and what’s next for her character Bridget.  Then, motherless at the age of two, Alysia Abbott lived with her bisexual father in the aftermath of San Francisco’s Stonewall riots.  She recounts her unique adolescence in her book titled Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father.  And finally, Robert Stone won the National Book Award for Dog Soldiers, and he’s published his first novel in ten years.  In Death of the Black-Haired Girl, Stone creates a drama of passionate characters, acting out American cultural battles. Religion, class and abortion drive a story of death and revenge.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ezekial Emanual is a professor of medical ethics and health policy, and was a special adviser to the White House on health-care reform, working directly on the Affordable Care Act.  His new book is Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act Will Improve Our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Inefficient, Error Prone System.  Emanuel was labeled “Dr. Death” after several conservative commentators twisted his words to make it seem as though he supported “death panels.”


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Phillipe Petit captured the world’s attention in 1974 when he secretly strung a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers and went for a walk —-  a quarter of a mile above the ground. The very-illegal stunt was the subject of the 2008 documentary Man on Wire.  Petit still practices the high wire three hours a day, six days a week. But he’s also a busker, juggler, pick-pock artist and author.  His newest book is Creativity: the Perfect Crime.   Then, Bob talks to author and Columbia University professor Stacey D’ Erasmo about her fourth novel Wonderland.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Then, Bob talks to journalist Daniel Schulman about his new book, Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Bob talks to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Ron Suskind, and his wife,Cornelia Kennedy, about the challenges of raising their autistic son, as detailed in Suskind’s new book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism.  Just before his third birthday, Suskind and Kennedy’s chatty, cheerful son suddenly stopped talking or making eye contact.  He eventually re-learned how to express himself by watching, memorizing, and impersonating characters from Disney animated films.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Inspired by her own experiences caring for her parents at the end of their lives, science writer Katy Butler’s book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, is an in-depth look at our medical community’s end-of-life care.  Butler’s book in available in paperback.  Then, in 1743, Ben Franklin made the case that it was time for colonists to give more thought to improving the lot of all of humankind through collaborative inquiry.  From that call-to-action came the American Philosophical Society.  Jonathan Lyons tells it’s story in his book, The Society For Useful Knowledge: How Benjamin Franklin and Friends Brought the Enlightenment to America, and it’s now available in paperback.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

China is changing at a pace ten times the speed and one hundred times the scale of the first Industrial Revolution, which created modern Britain.  New Yorker correspondentEvan Osnos writes about what that feels and looks like on the ground in his new big book The Age Of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The 2014 World Cup kicks off today in Brazil, in the midst of massive protests by Brazilians.  The protesters say the cost of the World Cup, the most expensive ever at $11 billion and rising, is coming at the expense of new funding for basic necessities like schools, hospitals, and public transport. Thousands of people have also been displaced to make room for construction related to the World Cup and the upcoming Olympics in 2016.  Sports writer and host of SiriusXM’s Edge of Sports Dave Zirin traveled to Brazil and he joins Bob to discuss the growing unrest there.  Zirin’s new book it titled, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and The Fight for Democracy. Then, playgrounds were conceived as a way to mold kids into solid citizens: to make them healthy, improve their teamwork skills, and help them become aware of social customs.  But playgrounds have changed over the years, largely due to the Consumer Product Safety Commission of 1972. Photographer Brenda Biondo documented the remnants of playgrounds-past for her beautiful coffee table book Once Upon a Playground.

Friday, June 13, 2014
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Then, internationally recognized illustrator and designer James McMullan was born in 1934 to British national parents living in China.  His new book, Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood, tells, through words and pictures, the dramatic story of his family’s journey from China.  Finally, more than seventy-five percent of Americans eat peanut butter (our own Chad Campbell not being among them until his mid-30s). Jon Krampner explains how and why it became everyone’s favorite sandwich spread in his book Creamy & Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food. It is now available in paperback.


Monday, June 16, 2014

In his latest thriller, The Director, best-selling author and Washington Postcolumnist David Ignatius takes readers into the illusive world of contemporary cyber-espionage.  


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Paul Williams is a well-known actor from television shows and movies of the past three decades. He also written a range of hits for The Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy - and Kermit the Frog.  Bob talks with Williams about those aspects of his career – as well as his job as the president of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.   Then, over a five year period beginning in 1968, airplane hijackings were astonishingly common. Commercial jets were seized once a week on average.  One of the most famous occurred in 1972 when Army veteran Roger Holder and his beautiful girlfriend Cathy Kerkow commandeered Western Airlines flight 701 from Los Angeles to Seattle as a vague protest against the Vietnam War.  Brendan Koerner chronicles the bizarre story in a book titled The Skies Belong to Us and it’s available in paperback.  Finally, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

 Matthew VanDyke was a timid young man who struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder. He earned a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Security Studies but hadn’t ever visited the region, so in 2007, VanDyke bought a motorcycle and set out to banish his sheltered life forever. Embarking on a journey to film—and find himself in the Arab World, VanDyke embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before joining the Libyan Civil War. After his disastrous capture and 166-day-long detention, VanDyke escaped and rejoined the rebels in time for their victory. Using a vast cache of footage filmed by VanDyke and collaborator Daniel Britt, filmmaker Marshall Curry crafted a gripping documentary called Point and Shoot about VanDyke’s experiences and personal transformation.  Point and Shoot is an official selection at this year’s AFI DOCS Festival.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Famed director John Waters—the man behind HairsprayPecker, and many other films—made a cardboard sign that read “I’m Not Psycho” and hitchhiked from Baltimore to San Francisco.  His book Carsick is his account of what happened during his unforgettable and unconventional “vacation.” Then, Bob talks with two Academy Award winners, actor Adrien Brody and director Paul Haggis, about their new film, Third Person, which opens tomorrow.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Then, “If you smoked Colombian weed in the 1970s and 1980s,” writes NBC News writer Tony Dokoupil, “you paid for my swim lessons, bought me my first baseball glove and kept me in the best private school in south Florida, alongside President George H.W. Bush’s grandkids, at least for a little while.” Dokoupil’s “old man” smuggled tons of marijuana into the country before his eventual self-destruction. Bob talks to Dokoupil about his memoir, The Last Pirate: A Father, His Son, and the Golden Age of Marijuana.  Finally, Bob talks to award-winning science journalist Rebecca Coffey about her latest literary endeavor — a novel that unravels the history of psychoanalysis, same-sex desire, and the Freud family.  It’s called Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story.  Coffey is a regular contributor to Scientific American and Discover magazines. Finally, Tori Murden McClure offers a powerful perspective on perserverance in her This I Believe essay, recorded at Spalding University in Louisville where she is President.