The Pundemic

On location in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, your intrepid correspondent brings you this live report from the 94th annual World Pun Competition.

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

Looxury!: The Four Yorkshireman Sketch

One more sketch from pre-Python days from At Last The 1948 Show, which was later revived for the Pythons. I think I like this original version best.

For some reason, the punch line is missing at the end. “And you try telling the young folk that today… and they won’t believe you”

Tim Brooke Taylor, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman.

Thanks to YouTuber BritBox

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time

Kurt Vonnegut’s humorous and fantastical novels are all still in print today. Certainly, if you were a college student of the 60s, 70s or 80s, you probably know lines from Vonnegut novels by heart. Producer, director and writer Robert Weide has come out with a new documentary on Kurt Vonnegut, which includes Mr. Weide’s personal relationship to Vonnegut, called Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. I was happy to interview Robert Weide for Arts Express.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Robert Weide, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Gold, Oil, And Avocados

Leftists who have followed the recent fortunes of socialist governments in Latin America can’t help but be both heartened and chastened by the ups and downs in those economies and in their social development projects. The dynamics of building socialism in the midst of an imperialist world presents enormous challenges.  I was happy to interview journalist Andy Robinson who succeeds in demystifying much of the politics of the area by getting down to basics in his fascinating and illuminating new book, Gold, Oil, and Avocados: A Recent History of Latin America in Sixteen Commodities.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Andy Robinson, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Vega Seeks A (Check) Mate

Monday Morning, Suzanne Vega’s “Knight Moves.”

I hadn’t heard this song for decades before hearing it again yesterday. Vega had fame with “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner” but this is one song of hers from 1985 that I particularly liked.

Thanks to YouTuber ponchsanta

The Railway Carriage: Marty Feldman and John Cleese

John Cleese, Marty Feldman from pre-Monty Python days on a tv program called At Last The 1948 Show. Feldman was hired as a writer as he was not yet a performer, but Cleese thought that Feldman would be great in sketches. And he was.

Thanks to YouTuber inedibledormouse

The Real Chaplin

It’s the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature, The Kid, and that’s as good  an excuse as any to celebrate all of his films. But who was Chaplin off-screen? A new Showtime documentary, The Real Chaplin directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney purports to get to the bottom of the real Charlie Chaplin…does it?

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands

Monday morning, Joan Baez with the Bob Dylan song that took up a whole side of vinyl on the Dylan album, Blonde on Blonde.

Dylan’s wife at the time was Sara Lownds; but as for the rest of the lyrics, you’re on your own…

Singer Tom Waits said of “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”: “This song can make you leave home, work on the railroad or marry a Gypsy.”

Thanks to YouTuber vpolynha

Seventh Inning Stretch

Party On!! The worldwide staff at Shalblog® Industries is taking a moment off from their usual Culture Conveyor Belt activities in order to select twenty of their favorite original interviews, reviews, stories, and poetry from the past year that you may have missed as we approach our seventh blog anniversary:

Letter From Brooklyn

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story

Thanksgiving

“Tried To Suffocate Us, But We Are Air”: Louise Dessertine

Dancing Through Tap History: Rusty Frank

David And The Recruiter

Denial

“Oh God, And This Is Only A Metaphor!”: Molly Peacock

The Lost Family: Part One

Everyone Was Beautiful: Paul Hostovsky

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?

Memoirs of a Misfit Ruler

The Voyage

The People Vs. Agent Orange

The Poems of Denise Levertov

The Joy of Sweat!

Fireboys

“A White Heron” by Sarah Jewett

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster

I Digress

2121: A Tale Of The Near Future

For Halloween, an original update of an old-time radio show, we call 2121: A Tale of the Near Future.

In a world where efficiency must be maximized, are poets and artists non-essential workers to be imprisoned and exterminated?

Featuring Mary Murphy as Caroline, Rick Tuman as the Guard, Julius Hollingsworth as the General Manager, and myself as James T. Randall. With music from Kojiro Miura.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

I Digress

“This is about digression. This started six years ago as a written piece and somehow I’m circling back to it now. We’re coming up on Halloween, which is a day where we hide ourselves, change our identities, have secret identities; in other words, we refuse to be what others see us as, we try to make things a little bit harder for those who want to capture us in a word, a phrase, a box, a category, an image. Like Harry Houdini, I want to be an escape artist from the expectations of others…”

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

The Third Floor

The longtime head of the Portuguese Communist Party, Álvaro Cunhal, spent many years of his life in Portuguese fascist prisons. Later in exile, from the 1950s onward, he wrote novels, novellas and short stories about Portuguese life under the fascists who ruled from 1927 to the early 1970s. In particular, he wrote of the leading role of the Portuguese Communist Party in the anti-fascist struggle for almost 50 years. To create a literary identity apart from his political renown, he employed the pen name Manuel Tiago.

Author and translator Eric Gordon set himself the task of translating Cunhal’s work into English, and so far, the books Five Days, Five Nights and The Six-Pointed Star have appeared from International Publishers. The 3rd Floor has just been issued, with five more books on their way.

The title story is a prison break tale. In the excerpt I’ll be reading, the Communist prisoners have worked out a messaging system with the Party by writing on little bits of cigarette papers and smuggling them in and out under the buttons of shirts in the dirty prison laundry. A trio of prisoners who are secretly working on a prison break have just received back a message from the Party.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Sweet Dreams

Monday morning, Toni takes the lead with a guitar and bass version of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams are Made of This.

Covering Annie Lennox is a heavy lift, and I was skeptical, but when the harmonies of Josh and Reina at 2:30 started to kick in, I had a big grin on my face.

More at Toni Lindgren

The Quiet Zone

Green Bank, West Virginia is a remote community with a claim to being the quietest town in America. Cell phone, WiFi and other electronic noise are tightly monitored. But when journalist Stephen Kurczy took a deep dive into the apparently sleepy town, he found a Twin Peaks-style stew of surveillance, Nazis, forbidding caves, murder and suicide. I was happy to talk with Steve about his new book detailing all this and more, The Quiet Zone.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.