Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dec 24-28 Programs

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoyed our week of holiday programming as much as we enjoyed producing it. As one faithful listener pointed out, last Friday's program about Primo Levi (Last Christmas of the War) - which left everybody in tears including gentilissimo Ernesto Livorni, my guest who actually slapped himself when he started to cry – was reminiscent of the Thanksgiving Day programs I used to do with Connie Kilmark when we asked listeners to tell us about the best gift they ever gave, or received. Powerful stuff. My favorite kind of radio.

Anyway, because we had such a favorable response to The Christmas Package (Dec. 15), we've decided to repeat it on Christmas Day. We're also repeating our program about the Evolution of Santa Claus (Dec. 18) on Christmas Eve. So here's how the week looks on paper:

Monday: The Evolution of Santa Claus, from his origins in ancient Turkey to Jolly Old St. Nick

Tuesday: The Christmas Package: an unforgettable story told by an Italian Jew who gets a Christmas package from home delivered to him in Auschwitza month before the end of the war.

Wednesday: Back to the Bonobos with the great Swiss biologist Frans De Waal, author of The Inner Ape, who insists we got it all wrong by claiming chimpanzees as our evolutionary ancestors instead of the peace-loving bonobos, the hippies primates who make love instead of war.

Thursday: In 1969, young Kirin Narayan's older brother, Rahoul, announced that he was quitting school and leaving home to seek enlightenment with a guru. Another familiar motif from the sixties, and a link to our evolutionary past, explored with Indian anthropologist, Kirin Narayan, author of the memoir, My Family and Other Saints.

Friday: Just when you're sick of the whole idea of food: delicious and healthful slimming secrets from the author of Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat.

Merry Christmas! And to all a Good Night!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Jean in The Big Apple

Friday, December 21, 2007

I can't let this year slide away without giving an account of my magical four days in The Big Apple. On Tuesday night, December 11, I gave a reading from my memoir, I Hear Voices, at the Borders bookstore on Park Ave. and 57th Street. For those of you who may not know New York, that's considered a pretty swanky part of town, right next to Bloomingdale's in the heart of the toney upper eastside. It's also a part of the city that holds special resonance for me since my Uncle Dominick's office used to be just off 58th St., and my great-grandfather actually helped build the German section of the city known as Yorktown. What a thrill - to find my book displayed in the window facing 57th St.!

Anyway, in spite of all my apprehensions and actual nightmares that nobody would show up, over 100 people were there! - quadruple the crowd that the store usually draws. Borders had to keep adding more and more chairs and finally put a second sound system in the back of the room so that everybody could hear.

Much like the launch of the book back in October at our own Borders on University Ave. in Madison, I felt once again, looking out at the crowd and recognizing so many people from so many different decades and sectors of my life, that I had died and gone to heaven. Stomping around in my new boots and embroidered black velveteen coat that my husband says makes me look like one of the founding fathers (not exactly the look I was striving for!), I read for over an hour and had to be cut off by the management when the Q@A went on a little too long.

I spotted old friends in the crowd: Mariana, my Cuban roommate from college in the crowd; Mara, my best friend from fifth grade, and new friends too, like Annie Lanzillotto. Jacki Lyden was there, all the way in the back, looking exceedingly glamorous in a sweater with a full yoke of white fur; Diane Ackerman came too, all the way from Ithaca. My friend Melanie's father was among the first to arrive, displaying his birth certificate to prove that he really is 96 years old; my son Giancarlo sent four of his friends; my husband made sure there were a few scientists in the crowd, and Dominick, my son, the artist, looking lushly Byronic in a black velvet jacket, leaned back in his chair in the front row, his eyes closed, drinking in my words. I tell you, it was the thrill of a lifetime. And we sold a lot of books too.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dec 17-21 Programs

Dear Friends,

We've decided to go for broke this week and test your tolerance by lining up a whole week's worth of Christmas programming! Don't touch that dial! We have a hunch you're really going to like it.

Monday: Navan, the singular a cappella group starring the polyglotton-ous Sheila Shigley, joins us to celebrate Celtic songs of the season: (sung in the original languages) mostly hair-raising, sometimes jazzy, mysterious songs that give fascinating insights into the pagan underpinnings of Yuletide.

Tuesday: The evolution of the modern-day Santa from its origins in Turkey (!), to Holland where Santa arrives with a boatload of Negroes who beat you up with sticks if you're bad (and nobody thinks it's racist), to The Miracle on Forty-Second Street. Now how could you not like a program like that?

Wednesday: Theologians John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg have teamed up again to give us a brand new and controversial interpretation of The First Christmas.

Thursday: Get ready for the Winter Solstice Poetry Circle of the Air with Molly Peacock. Molly has chosen a set of sonnets poet Marilyn Hacker wrote while undergoing surgery for breast cancer during the holidays, an irony all too commonplace. Look for the poems on our website and bring a solstice poem of your own choosing to the circle.

Friday: Wisconsin-born/Paris-based chef Patricia Wells joins us to give a French twist to the Christmas feast.

Have a great weekend. I'm outa here.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Dec 10-14 Programs

Hi Folks,

I'm headed for The Big Apple this week to give a reading from I Hear Voices at the Border's on 57th St. in mid-town Manhattan on Tuesday. Whoop-de-doo! Hopefully, more than five people will show up. I've worked so hard to drum up a crowd, I've even invited my best friend's brother from high school!. In my absence, Lori Skelton will be hosting the show to kick off the week and she's come up with a couple of dandy topics:

Monday: Lori Skelton talks with James Devita, APT actor and author of the recent novel "The Silenced," and Deborah Ellis, award-winning author of children's books, about contemporary literary role models for young girls and the challenge of crafting an identity when the world around you is far from stable.

Tuesday: Lori Skelton and guests discuss Winter Solstice celebrations, through time and across cultures.

Wednesday: Curious about what international students think of America? We'll talk with four winners of a UW international student essay contest representing four continents.

Thursday: The Paradox of the Ganga: India's Most Sacred River and its Pollutants, a journey narrated by a British documentarian.

Friday: (My Pick of the Week) The great Italian humanist, Primo Levi, much to his surprise, received a package of goodies for Christmas while he was in Auschwitz. Poet Ernesto Livorni of the Italian Department, UW-Madison, reads and discusses Levi's essay, "Christmas in Auschwitz." You'll love it!

Wish me luck!