Last week I took a look at the theatrics of a classic con game, three card monte. This week, I take a look at some of the most interesting films that have been made about con artists–and there are a lot of them. I managed to con myself into watching or re-watching hours of such movies this week, and if I don’t mention one of your favorites, rest assured this is not a definitive list by any means, just the ones I caught this week. I’ll rate them from one to five stars just for fun.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the review as broadcast on the Arts Express radio program today, heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
What does it take for a writer/actress to perform a play she’s written about prisons, at a prison? And in particular, at one of the most notorious prisons in the country, Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, America’s largest prison-plantation. A new documentary about that performance and its aftermath, titled Angola Do You Hear Us?, has been shortlisted for the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject. I was happy to speak with the director of the film, Cinque Northern, and the playwright/performer, Liza Jessie Peterson.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast on the Arts Express radio program today, aired on WBAI -FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Here in the US, January 6th has taken on a particular political meaning, but for most of the world, it’s the celebration of the twelfth night of Christmas, partridges in pear trees and all that. It’s a traditional time of partying and celebration, and Shakespeare titled what I believe is his best comedy, Twelfth Night. But it might be have been better called, Love Makes Idiots and Fools of Everyone!
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the rest of the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Recently here in NYC our mayor authorized a Public Service Announcement which featured a perky young woman telling us what to do in case a nuclear bomb fell. After listing what to do, she applauds us by saying, “You got this!” Well we were kind of horrified by it, so we here at Arts Express thought it might be fun to write our own version of that PSA.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our version of the PSA as broadcast last week on the Arts Express radio show, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Twas the end of December and feeling like hell
Covid and flu, do these things ring a bell?
Pre-emptions and scrambling to get the work done
The rain and the snow and the where-is-the-sun?
Inspiration was meager, the cupboard was bare
There was nothing to say, I had nothing to share
I was feeling the blues, and I have to confess
I was stuck for a piece for the next Arts Express...
Find out how it turns out in our year-end Arts Express thank-you poem, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to listen!
Why would a man shoot himself in the chest 192 times? In a country that worships guns, explosives, and comic book super heroes, what kind of stories move product? And finally in a country that professes to be deeply Christian and compassionate is there a second chance for all of us—even the worst among us? All this and more are explored in a really intriguing documentary called 2nd Chance. I was happy to talk to the director of 2nd Chance, Ramin Bahrani.
To hear the interview as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation, click on the triangle or mp3 link above.
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.
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
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.
Julian Assange, the most important news publisher of our time, is unjustly imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison in England, with the threat of extradition to the US hanging over him. He is charged with violations of the Espionage Act, for publishing the truth about US war crimes. Prosecution under that act will gag him from talking in court about the very war crimes he revealed in secret documents.
There has been a global outcry at Assange’s imprisonment. Recently, Karen Sharpe has edited a book for the publisher OR Books consisting of quotes from Julian Assange’s speeches and writings called Julian Assange In His Own Words. With permission of the publisher, we present to you a reading from the book by some of our radio friends inspired by Assange’s courageous acts. It is critical that Assange’s words and ideas not be silenced; only massive public protest can hope to free him.
And so, now, with the help of our radio friends, Julian Assange In His Own Words.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link to hear the segment as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
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.
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 TheSame 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.
As wars rage all around us, one war, WW II, still stands as the exemplar for the Good War. But is that a useful or accurate designation? And if not, why does that view still have such an outsized influence in the national discourse? I spoke with David Swanson who has written a book called Leaving World War II Behind which challenges the notion of WWII as the Good War.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with David Swanson on the Arts Express radio program on Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Fewer than 10 years ago, former NSA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the US government’s illegal, unconstitutional, worldwide warrantless surveillance. Throughout history, brave whistleblowers have risked their lives and livelihoods for what they considered the greater good. But what is the cost these whistle blowers pay, and more importantly, how do the successful whistleblowers succeed?
I was happy to talk with author Tim Schwartz who has written a how-to guide for would-be whistle-blowers, uncovering many of the traps and missteps one can fall into, A Public Service: Whistleblowing, Disclosure, and Anonymity.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the conversation with Tim Schwartz as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Medical bankruptcy is the number one cause of family bankruptcy in the US. But maybe what’s not as well known is that the major factor driving up the cost of healthcare in the US is due to hospital mergers. Now in a new documentary, Inhospitable, director Sandra Alvarez shows that hospitals are big business and even when dubbed non-profit, the money flows in a way that is not about prioritizing patient care or patient finances.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review of InHospitable as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
As corporations are making record profits, workers are being squeezed more than ever. But workers are fighting back in surprising ways. Jon Melrod, has been involved as hell raiser and union organizer for decades, ever since his groundbreaking union organizing on the shop floor for the United Auto Workers in the 70s and 1980s. He’s now written a rip-roaring memoir called Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War about his fight to make workers lives better, and I was happy to get the chance to interview him.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Jon Melrod, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Here’s a story by Mark Twain that was never published until after his death.
“The War Prayer” was written in 1905, in response to both the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American Wars, but even Mark Twain didn’t have the courage to publish it in his lifetime. It was left unpublished at his death in April 1910. Twain said about it, “I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.”
Click on the triangle to hear the story as broadcast today on the Art Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In preparation for this labor-day weekend, I thought it might be fun to watch and rewatch a bunch of labour-related films, in particular those that highlight union or workplace struggles. Well, I am somewhat bleary eyed from my home film fest, but I am going to focus on a half dozen of the films that I most enjoyed.
Click on the grey triangle or Mp3 link above to hear my picks as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
“This week, I imagined a radio station in dire financial straits deciding the only way out of its financial difficulties was to take on underwriting sponsorships, like you hear on NPR or PBS. Now I know that’s a completely hypothetical situation, I know that would never happen at a place like this, Pacifica WBAI…”
In our Arts Express Playhouse, a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman is best known for her novella The Yellow Wallpaper, but she also wrote hundreds of other short stories. The one I’m reading above, “If I Were a Man,” was written in 1914, before women even had the right to vote in the US, but it seems a whole lot more modern.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show, heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
The American mass obsession with guns is clearly unique and filmmaker Richard Chisolm has made an intriguing short documentary called Gun Show which details one artist’s attempt to come to grips with the national gun worship.
Click on the triangle above or the mp3 link to hear my review as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In 1995, the students of a secondary school in Scotland, found out they were the victims of a hoax. Their popular student companion of the previous year, Brandon Lee, turned out not to be who he seemed to be, but an imposter. Now, one of those school students, Jono McLeod, who grew up to be a filmmaker, has made a film that takes that shaggy dog story further yet, as Jono and his former school companions investigate the effect that the student they knew as Brandon Lee had on all of them. And in a virtuoso turn, Alan Cumming plays the camera-shy Brandon.
I was very happy to interview the director of the film, My Old School, Jono McLeod, and its star, Alan Cumming, for Arts Express radio heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast today