Radiolab :: Match Made in Marrow
A story about how faith and science are in conflict, but how people who disagree can come together in dialogue (and still disagree).
Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Disney Parks
An overlooked aspect of the Disney theme park experience: sound design.
30 for 30 Podcasts :: Hoodies Up
Trayvon Martin was murdered during a broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game. Five weeks later, his hometown team the Miami Heat posed for a photo with their hoodies up. This is the story of that photo and the rebirth of athlete activism.
WBUR News :: An ‘Underground World’: This Urban Tent Community Is Dangerous For Heroin Users
A scene from the opiod crisis with a visit to a hidden tent community in the Boston region.
Fresh Air :: Priest Responds To Gang Members’ ‘Lethal Absence Of Hope’ With Jobs, And Love
An interview with Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries and how to care for children in gangs. You can also read my review of his book Tattoos on the Heart.
Have you listened to the interview with me on the Five Questions with Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso podcast yet?
Did you know you can subscribe to the podcast on Podbean, iTunes, and Stitcher? You can also subscribe on Downcast and other smartphone apps.
Did you know there’s a Facebook page you can follow?
Did you know that this is an awesome podcast where you can hear everyday people share fascinating facts about themselves and you won’t be sorry for subscribing?
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Title: The City of Ember
Narrator: Wendy Dillon
Publication Info: Listening Library (2004)
This book is the first part of a series about a subterranean city built for reasons not yet explained over 240 years before the events of the novel. By this time, the people of Ember have forgotten about their origins and are dealing with crumbling infrastructure and dwindling supplies (a very clear analogy to climate change). The protagonists of the novel are Lina and Dina, two young people who have reached the age where they are given their “Assignments,” their jobs they have to do to contribute to the survival of the community (I don’t think the novel specifies their age, but they seem to be around 12 years old). A curious pair, Lina and Doon piece together instructions left behind by the “Builders” of Ember, and find a way out of the underground city. They are a clever and likable duo, albeit a bit one-note. The plot is very simple but it should be readable for it’s target age group. The book ends on a massive cliffhanger which makes of course makes me want to read the next book, but also a bit resentful because I didn’t find the book engaging enough on its own to want to read more.
Recommended books: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, and The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Publication Info: HarperAudio (2017)
Mary is a teenager living in a group home in Brooklyn after several year of serving time for murdering a baby when she was 9-years-old. Allegedly, as is Mary’s frequent refrain. When she falls in love with a man at the nursing home where she volunteers and becomes pregnant, she begins to reevaluate her past so that she can have a future with her baby and boyfriend. The incidents of the night of the murder and her mother’s role in it as well as other facet’s of Mary’s past are slowly revealed while in the present time Mary has to deal with case workers, psychiatrists, and her hostile companions in the group home. The book is good at showing the horrors of the modern day carceral state and Jackson does a great job at developing Mary’s voice. However, the twists in the story seem unnaturally injected into the narrative to build suspense, especially the biggest twist at the end of the book, make it hard to recommend this book.
Author: Barbara L. Baer
Title: The Ballet Lover
Publication Info: Open Books, 2017
Summary/Review: I received an advance reading copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.
This novel begins in 1970 and tells the story of Geneva, a writer for a niche ballet magazine, set against a feud between the great dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Natalia Makarova. The cruelties and sexism of the ballet world are reflected in Geneva’s life as her publisher squashes her honest accounts to maintain access, her long distance boyfriend plans a future with little concern for Geneva’s interests, and she has to care for her aunt who survived an escape from Nazi Germany. Geneva’s keen observational skills that make her a talented journalist also seem to be a handicap as she seems to often be observing rather than acting on her own life. In addition to an interesting fictional narrative there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes segments in ballet drawn from real life. The one thing about the conclusion of the book is that Geneva’s problems aren’t really resolved so much as she grows older and doesn’t find them so important anymore, which I guess is real life, but much of an ending for fiction.
Recommended books: Under the Net by Iris Murdoch and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Author: Tamara Winfrey Harris
Title: The Sisters Are Alright
Narrator: Tamberta Perry
Publication Info: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015
This short collection of essays focuses on how Black women in the United States are maligned and held to toxic stereotypes of being oversexed, irresponsible, and irrationally angry. Winfrey Harris breaks down these stereotypes historically and in the present day, and holds up the beautiful and accomplished reality of Black women. It’s very short but powerful so it’s worth finding a little time to read or listen to this book.
Author: Z.Z. Packer
Title: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Narrator: Shirley Jordan
Publication Info: Highbridge, 2013
This is an excellent collection of contemporary short fiction. Packer is great at quickly establishing characters, and while the stories tend to be more slice-of-life than a traditional beginning-middle-end format, they’re all the better for capturing the nuance of character developments. Stories range from a conflict among troops of Brownies – one black, one white – to a teenage girl who runs away to Atlanta and is taken in by a pimp, to a boy forced by his father to try to sell birds at the Million Man March. All the stories are from an outsider’s perspective and thus feel very relatable. I’ll be looking out for future work from Z.Z. Packer.
Recommended books: Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, Spunk: The Selected Stories of Zora Neale Hurston by Zora Neale Hurston, and Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
My daughter and I took advantage of the chilly holiday Friday to visit the New England Aquarium. The Giant Ocean Tank is always awe-inspiring and we got to see divers film the animals up close and listen to them answer questions. We also spent considerable time at the shark & ray touch pool, the tidepool touch tank, and with the penguins. As a novice photographer, I found that adjusting for white balance and shutter speed in the Aquarium was challenging, so there’s not so many great photographs, but still a record of our fun visit.
Clownfish hide and seek.
A conclave of rays.
African penquins enjoy one another’s company.
“Hey, you got the new Jay-Z on there?”
A resident of the giant ocean tank.
Myrtle the magnificent.
Diver resting on the coral.
Related post: Photopost: Whale Watch
Mortified :: Kids Who Teach
Stories of kids becoming teachers, including a stunning musical defense of feminism.
Have You Heard? :: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Corporate Education Agenda
An explanation of why major corporations have become big players in education policy and what it means for the rest of us.
Planet Money :: Your Cell Phone’s A Snitch
What personal information is gathered by your cell phones, how it’s being used by law enforcement and others, and what rights do we have under the Constitution to privacy.
99% Invisible :: Dollhouses of St. Louis
The sad story of St. Louis’ historic black neighborhood, The Ville, where old houses are being robbed of their bricks for resale to salvage operations.
Veteran’s Day is the time we honor people who served in the military. These are people who often have seen the horror of war and try to express this to those of use divorced from its reality, and even today are among those most opposed to war. My hope for this and every Veteran’s Day is that our military is used wisely and that there we don’t end up with more people to remember on future Memorial Days.
Bruce Springsteen :: “Born in the U.S.A” – The bombastic chorus is often misinterpreted as blind patriotism, but the verses tell of the long lasting effects on a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Creedence Clearwater Revival :: “Fortunate Son” – Who goes to war often has less to do with patriotism and more to do with one’s position in society.
Eric Bogle :: “The Green Fields of France” – November 11th commemorates the end of The Great War which was supposed to be “The War to End All Wars” but still young people are sent off to fight.
Phil Ochs :: “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” – Tells the story of a veteran of all the United States’ wars who decides to refuse to fight any loner.
Bill Withers :: “I Can’t Write Left-Handed” – Another view of the lasting damage on a veteran of war.
The Clancy Brothers :: “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” – The families and friends of veterans also suffer the iniquities of war.