Monday, November 9, 2009
In her new book, The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood has created a dystopian world that can be read as a commentary on religion, politics, science and the environment. Atwood has authored 15 books of poetry but she’s best-known for her novels including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake. Then, Peter Yarrow, one third of the iconic folk troupe, Peter, Paul & Mary, has turned from singing to picture books. First, there was the illustrated version of the classic song “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” and now he continues the idea with “Day is Done.” In addition to children’s books, Yarrow devotes lots of his time to a non-profit called Operation Respect.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Writer Barbara Kingsolver is one of America’s most beloved and respected novelists. She won the National Book Prize of South Africa in 1998 for The Poisonwood Bible and in 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Kingsolver the National Humanities Medal. Her new book, The Lacuna, is Kingsolver’s first novel in 9 years. Then, another 9 year hiatus: the swing-klezmer-gypsy jazz band with the kitchen-sink approach, Squirrel Nut Zippers has released their first live album. “Lost At Sea” was recorded last year in Brooklyn’s Southpaw club, and features hits like Put a Lid On It, Blue Angel, and Hell. Squirrel Nut Zippers is best known for their 1996 platinum album Hot.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
We visit the Army’s billion-dollar National Training Center and meet some of the people who help prepare our troops for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Covering more than a thousand square miles of California’s Mojave Desert, Ft. Irwin and the NTC includes realistic mock villages populated by role playing Iraqi nationals and military wives who aim to give the soldiers a taste of what’s to come overseas. We also witness a group of Army reservists training in a “trauma lane.” Amid IED blasts and sniper fire, the untested medics have to deal with role players pretending to be the enemy, frightened villagers demanding their attention and actual amputees who act like they just lost their legs in the explosion. Their commander, Sergeant First Class Bertran Schultz, describes the action and gives a blow by blow account of what his men are getting right and wrong.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Before Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton, there was Helen Gahagan Douglas, a pioneer of American politics. Douglas was the first Democratic woman elected to Congress and she ran for the US Senate in 1950 against Richard Nixon. Nixon called her “pink right down to her underwear.” Douglas retaliated with the nickname “Tricky Dick” after Nixon’s vicious smear tactics assured her defeat. Journalist Sally Denton has written the first biography of Douglas. It’s called The Pink Lady: The Many Lives Of Helen Gahagan Douglas. Then, from the loveable bartender known to the world as “Woody Boyd” in the television series Cheers, to the off-color publisher of Hustler Magazine, Larry Flynt, Woody Harrelson has proven to be a highly diverse actor for more than twenty years. In his most recent film, Harrelson is teamed with actor Ben Foster as members of the Army’s Casualty Notification service – representatives of the military who must deliver the sad news of fallen soldiers to the families. Harrelson, Foster and writer-director Oren Moverman discuss the film, “The Messenger,” and their experiences making movies.
Friday, November 13, 2009
David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, Tom Russell is a visual artist, an author and an accomplished musician. He’s also a songwriter whose tunes have been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Guy Clark and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. But Russell isn’t just an artist: he holds a masters degree in Criminology, he taught in Nigeria during a civil war, and while working as a cab driver in Queens, a chance encounter with Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead kick-started his return to the music business. Tom Russell joins Bob to discuss his experiences and to play some tunes from the new album “Blood and Candle Smoke.” Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Barry Bingham, Sr. He was the long-time owner, editor and publisher of The Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times. His family’s leadership of the newspapers as well as radio and TV properties in Kentucky led to numerous journalism awards including multiple Pulitzer Prizes.