“Shakespeare Without Tears”: Hamlet and the All-Seeing Surveillance State

Welcome to our inaugural Arts Express episode of our “Shakespeare Without Tears” series, making Shakespeare accessible and relevant for the 21st century. We start off with an episode based on an a post I wrote here some time ago.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the episode as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

And for our New York City listeners, we’re happy to tell you that we are now on at a new time, Wednesdays at 9PM.

The Home Shopping Weapons Network

Making shopping decisions can be tough, but this holiday we’ve come to the rescue! Take a listen to our latest Arts Express Playhouse sketch, written and produced by your correspondent, and featuring the brilliant talent and skill of Mary Murphy and Lucy McMichael.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the piece as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show on WBAI-FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the country

Homeward Bound

Monday morning, an old classic covered impeccably. The Belfast band, Dea Matrona, consisting of Mollie McGinn and Orlaith Forsythe, makes me realize just how good this song sounds with female voices.

More at Dea Matrona

Waiting Eight Years To Get Her Due

Here’s a terrific performance of Dionne Warwick singing “Make It Easy On Yourself”–happening eight years later than it should have.

Here’s the story, with thanks to Wikipedia: Back in 1962, when Warwick was still a back-up singer, the songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David asked her to make a demo version of the song. The demo was so good that the record label picked up the song–but they gave it to veteran soul singer Jerry Butler to record–and it was a hit. Three years later, The Walker Brothers, a white pop trio, had a hit with the song as well. It wasn’t until 1970 that a live performance by Dionne Warwick was released and the song became a hit once again.

Click on the video and see if you don’t agree that eight years was too long to wait, and that she owns the song.

The postscript to the story is that Warwick was so angry at Bacharach and David for letting the song go to Jerry Butler, that she told them in anger, “Don’t make me over!” And Bacharach and David wrote a song for her with that title–which she recorded!–and that too became a hit.

Thanks to YouTuber Dionne Warwick Archive

Daodejing

Any course can be taken
as the right course to take,
but no course like that
can be the course taken always.

Any name can be named
to determine what is or should be,
but no name like that
can be what determines them always

Those are the opening lines of one of the oldest pieces of literature known, the Tao Te Ching. Aside from the Bible, it is also probably the most translated piece of literature known, written in about 400BC. Now, in a new translation by Brook Ziporyn transliterated as the Daodejing, English readers can get some new insight into this provocative and ambiguous classic, which I’ll be reading from.

If you’ve never encountered the Daodejing, you may be startled by its startling modern dialectical approach to life. This new translation with be published this January by Liveright Publishing; you can find more info here.

Click on the triangle or the mp3 link above to hear the reading as heard today on the Arts Express radio show broadcast today on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

And for our NY friends–we’re on at a new time on WBAI FM: Wednesdays, 9pm.

Ball In The Center Pocket

Here’s a magic routine we love. It didn’t fool Penn & Teller, but magician Jason Fields (known as Jafo) pulls it off so well that Penn & Teller have to acknowledge his skill and artistry. And by the way, if P&T were to examine the board with the hole, they’d find nothing out of the ordinary.

More at Magic of Jafo

X: The Life And Times of Malcolm X

About 58 years ago, Malcolm X was murdered, but his legacy has only grown in the ensuing years. In 1986, Anthony Davis, composer, and Thulani Davis, the playwright and poet, wrote an opera about Malcolm X called X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Although it did have a premiere at New York City Opera, it was never recorded commercially in full. Since then, the opera has been revised with a tighter libretto. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project has just released the world premiere of a new recording of the opera, starring Davone Tines as Malcolm X. With permission, here are excerpts from that opera.

Click on the triangle or MP3 link above to hear the opera selections as broadcast on the Arts Express program this morning on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Killing Me Softly

Roberta Flack’s publicist gave the sad news yesterday that she will not be able to sing again due to ALS. One of the great expressive singers of the 70s and afterwards, this song was named one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. Supposedly, co-writer Lori Lieberman wrote the song about singer Don McLean (“American Pie,” “Vincent”).

Thanks to YouTuber RHINO

“I Don’t Know How…”

As far as I’m concerned, the greatest–and most entertaining–close-up magician I’ve ever seen, Dani DaOrtiz. Penn & Teller are beaten so bad, they don’t even try to figure out Dani’s magic.

More at dani daortiz

*8th Anniversary Celebration

Well time flies when you’re having fun, and here we are at the 8th iteration of the Shalblog Industries® (division of Axlotl International) daily blog anniversary. As is our wont on such occasions (and who wouldn’t want to wont on such an occasion?) herewith a list of some of our favorite radio work of the past year that you may have missed.

Lady Buds: Six Women Underground Cannabis Growers

The Pundemic

The Furnished Room

Gold, Oil, And Avocados

“They’re Worse Than You Thought And More Evil Than You Thought”

The Great Postal Heist

How to Tell A Story In One Sentence

War Is A Racket

Advice For The Ethically Challenged

Why Is We Americans?

Mr. Bachmann And His Class

Guantanamo Diary Revisited

The Price of Immortality

“A Spectre is Haunting Europe…”

Decolonize Museums

Summer Solstice Winter

The Destiny of Civilization

Before The Law

“I Feel Drunk All The Time” : The Poems of Kenneth Patchen

Gun Show!

“If I Were A Man…”

Taken For Granted: Overcoming Underwriting

Fighting Times

InHospitable

A Public Service: A Guide For Whistleblowers

Compared To What

(Click on video to play)

Monday morning, this Gene McDaniels/Eddie Harris song seems more and more relevant every day. Here’s the great Nellie McKay from a performance just last month giving it her all.

Thanks to YouTuber Monks Jazz Club

Same Storm

The twists and turns of the last three years add up to several lifetimes. But somehow, with all of Covid’s initial attendant panic, fear and isolation, and the major film studios shut down, filmmaker and writer Peter Hedges decided to make a film during the very heart of the pandemic. The result was a unique film project called The Same Storm, the interlocking stories of some two dozen characters facing life as the world turned upside down. I was very happy to be talking with the creator of The Same Storm, Peter Hedges.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with director Peter Hedges as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.