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02-06-09 Agony Column Podcast News Report : An Audio Review of 'UFO in Her Eyes' by Xiaolu Guo

We'll be running the written version of this review next week, but the book is so outstanding, I want to make sure that readers at least get a clue that the True First edition is the Chatto & Windus UK version, and they are to be congratulated. Here's a link to the audio review. For more on Xiaolu Guo, here's a link to my review of her first novel, 'A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers'; and to my NPR First Books piece on her, where you can help this site by listening and leaving Recommendations and Comments, my first (phone) interview with her and my full-length, in-depth interview with her.

02-05-09 Agony Column Broadcast Show, Bea Basso and Burton Raffel

Once again, we're bringing back a podcast of a "broadcast," and when I use those quotes it's for a reason I shall not divulge, certainly not here on the home page and probably not even on the "jump" page. I can assure you, however, that I jumped — and then did a bit of silent meditation as I broadcast this episode.

Today, we're podcasting the show I broadcast on December 14, 2008, which featured Bea Basso and Burton Raffel. When I put together the report for NPR on translation, I must admit that I was quite pleased to get a beeped word on the air, even if they did beep it. And I'm generally very careful to place markers in the audio files whenever I encounter a beepable word. Generally. You can find the file by clicking on this link.

02-04-09 Agony Column Broadcast Show, Jonathan Carroll & Nina Matsumoto

The influx of totally new audio material is probably going to keep me permanently behind when it comes to podcasting the audio from my broadcast hour, but this week, I have a few interviews in the edit process, so we're bringing back some of my broadcast shows.

Today, we're podcasting the show I broadcast on December 7, 2008, which featured
Jonathan Carroll and Nina Matsumoto. I trust that listeners will note that these interviews are generally shorter and (generally) edited for language that would get me in hot water were it to be broadcast over an NPR affiliate like KUSP. There are also brief musical interludes between the segments that in the broadcast world allow me to make grant announcements and let listeners know what they’re listening to, should they join me partway through the show. I trust that it makes for a rather different listening experience from the raw audio you tend to get here, which is my explanation excuse for podcasting. You can find the file by clicking on this link.

02-03-09 A 2008 Interview with Saul Ferris :
The Collector

I know a fellow collector when I met one, even over the phone. I spoke with Saul Ferris via ISDN for the Batmanga NPR Report, and it was apparent after about two minutes of conversation that I had met yet another man compelled by an inner force to accumulate, to accrue, to assemble a group of things in such a manner as to create ... I'm not sure what we try to create when we collect, but the creative force is there.

Ferris is a fascinating man, and I think a lot of readers are going to feel like they've met a very old and dear friend when they hear the interview by following this link. Ferris talks about the birth of his interest in Batman, and the sort of executive decision collectors have to make when they narrow down their focus to one arena. He also talks about the sacrifices that collectors make that seem natural to us, but eccentric to those who know us. I know that the readers of this column are a bit more concerned with books than the average reader. But I truly think that even so-called average readers, indeed everyone feels that tug, that pull, at some time or another in their lives. Most of us manage to scale it down to a reasonable level. Bt the urge is there, and it's not "wrong" or "weird." It is, indeed, in many ways what makes us human.

02-02-09 A 2009 Interview with Mardi Horowitz, MD : A Hundred Years of Happiness

I spoke with Mardi Horowitz just before his appearance at Capitola Book Café. Even though I enjoyed the book and found that it was not a cloying treatise on feel-good, there was still a core of skeptic in me. I just thought that there might be a chance that the good doctor would be more good than doctor. Fortunately, that is absolutely not the case; Horowitz is a scientist from start to finish, lucid and entertaining.

Horowitz and I spoke not just about the exercises and concepts covered in his book, but also about the general idea of happiness as it has heretofore been discussed in the literature and in the general population. You can hear this conversation by following this link. I'm guessing that the Doctor is well and fully booked, alas, in case you want to try to get some quality time. The book, however, is a fine reading experience. It may indeed make you happy. If that is in fact a state of mind that appeals to you.

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