Even though I deplore what he said about President Obama on Fox & Friends and even though he seems, in general, like kind of a deplorable person, I kinda wish everybody would reconsider the idea of dropping Hank Williams Jr. from Monday Night Football's opening. There's some ethos of excess and yahooism that Hank captures perfectly, and, really, here at NPR, we've learned some hard lessons abou tossing people named Williams aside just because they said something stupid on television.
The postal service has two levels of problems. The frist one is a short term problem that's probably solvable. They were placed, in 2006, behind an accounting 8-ball that required them to pre-fund their health care benefits in a manner not ordinarily contemplated in either the public or private sectors -- which by the way is another issue for the post service. It really is a strange creature, a government agency that, in some ways, isn't. Anyway, reasonable people can if they choose to make the postal service solvent.
Every now and then you see a speaker's fee that stops you in your tracks. $100,000 for Sara Palin. $200,000 for Bill Clinton. DEP Commissioner Dan Esty is in the news (again) today for a $15,000 speaking fee he collected in Cleveland.
Clinton is the Michael Jordan of this world. In the ten years since leaving office, he has earned - from speaking engagements - $75.6 million.
The English jurist William Blackstone said "Better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent suffer."
In recent years, I've seen Blackstone's ratio, when it's cited, shrink down to four to one, as if there's been some kind of deflation of the presumption of innocence. I also wonder how it would fare as a poll question. It's an older idea than Blackstone's 18th century. It's as old as Genesis, as old as Maimonides, but there seem to be plenty of people eager to convict the guilty and not commensurately worried about the innocent.
Our in-house name for this show is "Entertainment Freeganism", but that's kind of a misnomer. On the one hand, it's true that you can entertain yourself with a lot of free television and movies on your computer, if you're willing to watch it all there - and the amount of free music available on the internet is staggering. A visit we paid to a local library did remind us of how much free material there is to be had there. And, as you'll learn on our show today, a good antenna will give you surprisingly high quality over-the-air television.
Musicians from Europe, Canada and across the U.S. will meet in Connecticut on October 8th & 9th for the 9th annual Harp Guitar Gathering. What’s a harp guitar?
Think of an acoustic guitar – either nylon or steel string - sitting on your lap. Between your chin and the guitar, half of a harp springs out from the top shoulder of the instrument. It's a sight to behold! There are no frets on the additional strings. They’re either plucked or resonate as you play, but they expand the instrument’s range down as low as a grand piano.
You're about to meet several people who are mildly unhinged on the subject of hotdogs. One of them is David Pudlin. He used to be the majority leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives. Now he spends a great deal of time thinking about chili dogs, which he knows way too much about.
"I'm from New Britain. What else am I going to know about?" is his answer. "If I had grown up in Rome, I'd probably know a lot about statues and fountains.
In 2009 I moderated a Connecticut Forum panel of chefs made famous by television and radio. When word got out that I was doing this, I was approached by people who wanted -- really wanted -- to meet a particular chef. Sometimes it was Duff Goldman from the TV Show "Ace of Cakes." Sometimes it was Anthony Bourdain or Alice Waters.
Maybe you think of the banjo as primarily a bluegrass instrument, but try not to forget that prior to about 1830, it was played pretty much exclusively by African-Americans, and it seems to have as ancestors several African instruments.
In Petersberg KY, there's a Creation Museum where the exhibits at the museum teach that the Earth is 6,000 years old and was created in six 24-hour days. The founders say more than a million people have visited — 80 percent of which are from out of state. It's such a good economic development tool that the governor of Kentucky is supporting financial aid to a companion museum about Noah's Ark, with an ark built to biblical scale, to show people that the whole concept really could have worked.
There is no more heart-stopping understudy story (that I'm aware of) than Elaine Stritch's much-told tale of understudying Ethel Merman in "Call Me Madam" while simultaneously being cast in the 1952 debut of "Pal Joey," with a first entrance in the second act.
For The Nose, we try to round up a posse of ideas that reflect the serious and playful sides of the week in culture. And culture has been unbusually giving this week. We're just getting to know Rick Perry, a guy who has already (kind of) threatened the Fed Chief, said there are some gaps in the theory or evolution, declared climate change and a non-issue and, well, he's just getting warmed up.
In the Old West, chili was a sacrament and maybe still is.
Pat Garrett said of Billy the Kid: "Anybody that eats chili cant' be all bad." And the James Brothers repeatedly passed up chances to rob a bank in McKinney Texas, because the chili parlor there was so good they believed the town deserved a break. Kit Carson said, when he died -- and he was about my age -- "I wish I had time for one more bowl of chili."
In reading somebody else's pet peeves about the state of the English language, it is impossible not to think of one's own. But here I must pause and say that Roy Blount Jr.'s "Alphabetterjuice" seems to address every eventuality, including the question of pet peeves. Blount reports:
I don't hate hipsters, but I will admit to watching them with amusement.
Starting around 2008, my son and I picked up the practice of going to the Lower East Side, grabbing some seats facing out on the street at a place like Spitzer's and watching the hipster scene go by. Our favorite moment came in 2009 when we saw an older Lower East Side street guy explode at some hipsters sauntering down Houston. "Eff you!" he yelled "It's supposed to be some kind of artistic gesture that you live here?"
What do you miss most? Is it a person? Maybe your grandmother's cooking ... or an ex-lover who you never got over. Maybe you miss a place, an old torn down building or a resturant that served a dish you can't find anywhere else.
Perhaps it's a moment in time that you miss, or the freedom of being a college student. Maybe you miss VHS tapes, vinyl albums or your tacky Christmas sweater.
Today was one of our most-called shows ever. At times, our courageous intern fielded upwards of six calls a minute. Fortunately, we got a lot of your voices on the air.
Alright, admit it - You didn't do the reading, did you? You were so busy baking the perfect apple crumble topped with burnt sugar and selecting the perfect Michael buble album for background music, that you prepared for everythning about the book club except actually finishing the book. So you'll have to fake it through another Cormac McCarthy, or Thomas McGuane or Patrick McGrath.