Midday Podcast | WYPR

Midday Podcast

Copyright Epic Photography Jamie Schoenberger

(This program originally aired on October 24, 2017.)

Tom’s guest today is Alice McDermott, the New York Times best-selling author of eight novels. Three of them, After This, At Weddings and Wakes and That Night, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Another novel, Charming Billy, won the National Book Award in 1998.

Her eighth novel, The Ninth Hour, published last September, is a profound and moving contemplation on the big issues: love, family, faith, religion and bringing meaning to one’s life. The story is told with tenderness and compassion, by an artist at the height of her creative and literary powers.

Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR and others have named The Ninth Hour one of the best novels of 2017.  Listen to this archive edition of Midday,  and you'll understand why.

Photo courtesy Goucher College.

(This program originally aired live on October 17, 2017)

Elizabeth Strout is Tom's guest in this archive edition of Midday.  Strout is the author of six novels and many short stories; her most recent book is a series of linked tales called Anything is Possible.  Linking stories together was a structural device that Ms. Strout also employed in what is perhaps her most well-known work, Olive Kitteridge.  The book earned her the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction , and Frances McDormand starred in an adaptation of the story for HBO that won eight Emmy Awards.

Strout writes about people with big hearts who often live in small towns:  A disgruntled former school teacher, Somali immigrants, a school janitor, a successful writer who returns to rural Illinois to reunite with her estranged siblings.  We meet these and many, many more complicated and brilliant and flawed and eloquent characters who are powerfully and compellingly portrayed by a writer whose tremendous gifts of observation and explication are imbued with great magnanimity and compassion.

Elizabeth Strout was a guest speaker at Goucher College hours after our show and again later the same evening.  For more information, click here or contact the Kratz Center for Creative Writing  at kratz@goucher.edu

Maryland Humanities

*This program originally aired on September 21, 2017.  

Nigerian author and essayist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joins Tom for the hour. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus is this year's One Maryland One Book selection. Sponsored by Maryland Humanities, students and literature lovers across the state are reading and discussing the book.

Chimamanda is the author of two other novels: Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah, which is being made into a film. She published a short story collection in 2009 called The Thing Around Your Neck, and her 2012 TED Talk  was published as a book, called We Should All be Feminists.  Her latest book is Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions.

On this Friday before Christmas 2017, a spritely and indefatigable 95-year-old raconteur joins Tom in Studio AHis name is Gilbert Sandler, and as WYPR listeners well know, Gil has been telling his Baltimore Stories on this station for the past 15 years.  On this particular Friday afternoon, as he prepares to retire the series next Friday, the story he tells is the story behind this popular and enduring narrative.

Gil and Tom are joined by Fred Rasmussen of the Baltimore Sun, a longtime friend and associate who provides a retrospective on the many quirky and fascinating characters Gil has introduced us to over the years.

photo by Rob Sivak/WYPR

To finish up our week on this Friday before Christmas, we turn to a choir that has recently been formed at Paul’s Place, a service organization in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore.  Paul’s Place has provided services for the people in that neighborhood for more than 30 years, including hot lunches, clothes, health care, and programs for children. Several members of the Voices Rise Choir  -- Marvin, aka "Wolfman;" Luther; Deborah Travers; Chris Nephew; Wanda Lewis; Marc; Deborah and Ser Floyd -- have been kind enough to come to our studio today and sing us a few Christmas carols.  They're accompanied in the studio by guitarist Dr. Jeremy Lyons.

The directors of the Voices Rise Choir are two brothers who are graduates of the Peabody Institute, Douglas Benjamin and his brother, Benjamin Buchanan.  

It’s Tube Talk on Midday. Nostalgia seems to be in on the small screen. Remakes of One Day at a Time and She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix are gaining popularity with younger audiences. But do television reboots and remakes, really work? Plus, which shows are sidelined, and which ones are continuing in the wake of the sexual misconduct scandal rocking Hollywood? And, black actors make up 20 percent of TV series regulars, so why are fewer than 5 percent of TV writers, black?   

Bridget Armstrong is a producer for Midday. Jamyla Krempel is a digital producer for WYPR. They join Tom to discuss the television highs and lows of 2017. 

ClintonBPhotography

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, to join  us with her latest take on the region's thespian offerings. Today, she reviews "The Revolutionists," the new play by Lauren Gunderson that's now on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

A comic spin on the bloody 18th century uprising known as the French Revolution, the play brings together former queen Marie Antoinette (played by Beth Hylton), assassin Charlotte Corday (Emily Kester), playwright Olympe de Gouges (Megan Anderson), and Caribbean spy Marianne Angelle (Dawn Ursula), as the people of France struggle against an oppressive monarchy and take to the streets for equality and freedom.  The sparks fly in what Everyman Theatre calls "a funny new work about feminism, legacy and standing up for one’s beliefs."

"The Revolutionists" -- directed by Casey Stengl, with costume design by David Burdick -- continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, January 7. 

Photo courtesy State's Attorney's Office

(The text of a statement sent Friday, Dec. 22 to Tom Hall by the defense counsel for Keith Davis, Jr., the Columbia man whose recent conviction on second-degree murder charges is discussed in Wednesday's Midday show, is posted  at the bottom of this Web article)

Tom's NewsMaker guest today is the State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby.  In the 2014 primary, she defeated her former boss, Greg Bernstein, by ten points, a decisive victory, before running unopposed in the general election.  She was swept into office by tapping into widespread dissatisfaction with increasing crime.  Mosby promised to reduce it. 

Two years into her term, her Office has a conviction rate of 79% in homicide cases.  The clearance rate of cases for the Baltimore Police department has also improved. 

But Baltimore struggles with an epidemic of violent crime that has reached record levels, and the police department has been rocked by internal corruption.     

How do we fix this?  State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby joins Tom, and takes your questions, for the hour.

To watch the conversation we streamed live on Facebook, click here

_________________________________________________________________________ 

Christmas is less than week away, and while the halls may be decked, the pressure is on to adorn the centerpiece of every holiday celebration, the table.  As we skid full steam ahead into Christmas and New Years, many of us will have to confront the tricky task of choosing the right wines for holiday celebrations.  

The revival of the cocktail is still going strong. While wine is a safe and classic option, the addition of a signature cocktail or punch bowl to your holiday gathering can add a layer of color and creativity to your upcoming soiree. 

Tim Chin, known to many as the Boy with the Blue Beard, is a food photographer, blogger, craft bartender, and  local food and wine personality.  He joins Tom in Studio A to share some timely cocktail and holiday punch bowl recipes.  Here are two of his favorites: 

Tim's Holiday 75

  • 2 oz. Jack Daniels Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Le MONADE Cranberry Sage Shrub
  • shake and strain over ice; top with brut champagne
  • Garnish w/ fresh cranberry, sage leaf and lemon peel.  

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) joins host Tom Hall for the hour. Maryland’s senior senator is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. He is also the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senate Republicans are confident that their tax bill will be approved this week. With so much attention on the tax bill, it’s easy to overlook other major stories, such as: Without a Continuing Resolution by Friday at midnight, the government will shut down. Last week, the White House and the State Department sent conflicting signals about conditions for talks with North Korea.  And, the President’s declaration that the embassy in Israel would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has engendered a storm of criticism. 

Tom asks Sen. Cardin about these crucial issues and more. And the senator answers listener questions. 

Photo by Kathleen Cahill

Today on Midday: Helicon, the renowned traditional music trio is here.

Tomorrow they continue a great Baltimore holiday tradition with their 32nd annual Winter Solstice Concerts  at Goucher College’s Kraushaar Auditorium.

Helicon will be joined tomorrow by Charm City Junction and other performers, including the North American Step Dance champion Jonathan Srour.

Today, we’re keeping up a tradition of our own. For the many years, Helicon has treated us to a preview of their Winter Solstice concert here in Studio A.

Helicon’s Chris Norman plays wooden flutes and small bagpipes. Robin Bullock plays guitar, cittern, and mandolin, and Ken Kolodner plays hammered dulcimer and fiddle. Also here, from Charm City Junction: Brad Kolodner and Patrick McAvinue, the 2017 International Bluegrass Musician Association Fiddler of the Year.  The great old-time musician and vocalist Rachel Eddy is also here. They’ll all be performing at the two Winter Solstice concerts tomorrow, at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Click here for tickets. 

Shaé McCoy of Coyophotos

Welcome to another edition of Living Questions, a monthly series we've been producing in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies  (ICJS), exploring the role of religion in the public sphere.  Today we'll meet three young African-American women with a decidedly spiritual agenda: bringing their conversations about faith, friendship and racial identity in a podcast called “For Collard Girls.” (Think collard greens and pastoral collars.)

Connecting with religious women of color, using touchstones of hip-hop culture, poetry, and biblical interpretation, their frank conversations about faith guide listeners along their spiritual paths. 

Joining Tom in the studio to talk about their project are podcasters Laura Kigweba James, the recently-appointed pastor at the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church here in Baltimore;  Tamika Young Savage, a seminarian studying to obtain her Master of Divinity degree at United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, who is also a Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in DC; and Maya Camille, aka Camilla the Killa, a Baltimore-based poet and spoken word artist whose writing addresses aspects of the spiritual in our lives; Maya also works with Baltimore's S.A.N.D. Gallery, an exhibition and event space whose name stands for "Sell Art, Not Drugs."

Photo by Richard Anderson

It's Thursday, so it's time for our weekly visit from theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us today with a review of Lookingglass Alice, the new spin on the Lewis Carroll classic that's now on the boards at Baltimore's Center Stage.

In this modern re-telling (which is suitable for audiences age 6 and up), Alice is a young African-American woman (played by Markita Prescott), who falls through the Looking Glass and finds herself on a journey of self-discovery and fulfillment.  Along the way, she encounters the familiar and the fantastical, and comes face to face with the intimidating Red Queen (played by Patrice Covington), along with a surreal parade of oddities that challenge Alice to stand strong and speak her mind.

Lookingglass Alice, directed by Jeremy Cohen and with costumes by David Burdick, continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, December 31st.   Ticket info: click here.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore in a surprising upset for the open Alabama Senate Seat. It is the first time a Democrat has won the seat in 25 years. Today on Midday, reaction from Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

Black voters turned out in record numbers and overwhelmingly supported Doug Jones, while a majority of white voters stuck with Moore, despite allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls as young as 14. Georgetown University Law Professor Paul Butler joins Tom to analyze the results and answer the question; has the Trump tide begun to turn? 

Paul Butler is a former federal prosecutor. He teaches law at Georgetown University, but this year, he’s a visiting professor at his alma mater, Harvard Law School. His most recent book is titled Chokehold: Policing Black Men – A Renegade Prosecutor’s Radical Thoughts on How to Disrupt the System

 

Now we turn to a Soulful Rock and Roll tribute to the legendary Jimi Hendrix. This Saturday at the Creative Alliance acclaimed soul singer Navasha Daya will headline a benefit concert honoring the rock and roll icon. The proceeds from the concert go to the Youth Resiliency Institute's Baltimore Guitarists Against Violence program which provides opportunities for students who are interested in guitar to perform, connect with professionals and even record. 

Navasha Daya is a soul singer, cultural arts activist and Co- Founder and Director of Healing and Performing Arts for the Youth Resiliency Institute.

Photos courtesy State delegates offices

The MD General Assembly will convene for the 2018 Session in a little less than a month, on January 10th.  By the time that sine die rolls around in April, lawmakers will have considered hundreds of bills, and will have jockeyed for position on any number of important bills that will compete for the attention of their fellow legislators, leadership and their constituents. 

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland will be rolling out their priority agenda for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, reviewing policy and pushing for legislation that will champion issues impacting black communities in Baltimore and across the state.  

Today, we are joined in studio by three of 51 members of the MD Legislative Black Caucus, who represent the Baltimore area. 

Del. Cheryl Glenn is the chair of the caucus.  She represents the 45th District, here in Baltimore City.  

Del. Curt Anderson serves as Chair of the Baltimore City House Delegation.  Representative of the 43rd Legislative District. 

And Del. Benjamin Brooks, Sr. joins us as well.  He represents the 10th district in Baltimore County.  He was elected in 2015.  He also serves as a Deputy Majority Whip, and a member of the Economic Matters Committee. 

Jad Limcaco/Unsplash

Along with all the holly and jolly and red and green, for many, this time of year comes with a good bit of holiday blues. The stress that holiday expectations can bring, lead lots of folks to feel depressed, despite the seasonal good cheer that swirls around them.  Today on Midday, ways to cope with grief, depression, and anxiety during the holidays. 

Annette March Grier is a registered nurse and the President and Co-Founder of Roberta’s House, a grief support center in Baltimore. In 2014 she was honored as a CNN Hero for her work.    

On this week's edition of the Midday NewsWrap: a federal government shutdown averted for two whole weeks; the Mueller investigation turns to President Trump’s borrowing history; Donald Trump Jr. invokes attorney-client privilege in testimony to Congress, and Roy Moore is far from being kicked out of the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Also, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager is sentenced to 20 years for the killing of Walter Scott.  And the killing of Detective Sean Suiter here in Baltimore more than three weeks ago remains unsolved.  The FBI has been asked to take over the investigation.  No word back from them yet. 

Joining Tom in Studio A to discuss this week's news is Alec MacGillis, politics and government reporter for Pro Publica and a Robin Toner Prize-winner for excellence in political reporting.

But we begin with President Trump's announcement Wednesday that he has ordered the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- a city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital, and whose status was to have been decided in a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.  For an analysis of what Trump's controversial order could mean for such an agreement -- and for the wider Mideast peace -- Tom speaks with Phyllis Bennis, the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She joins us on the line from her office in Washington, DC.

Sinking Ship Productions

Actor Jonathan Levin and playwright Josh Luxenberg, ​a Baltimore native,  join us to talk about their new play, A Hunger Artistwhich opens at Baltimore Theatre Project next week after acclaimed runs Off-Broadway in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

A Hunger Artist,  which is based on the Franz Kafka short story of the same name, uses physical theater, Victorian miniatures, puppetry and a set of simple props to support a powerhouse performance.

Luxenberg wrote the script. Levin is the show’s only performer. They are co-founders and co-artistic directors of Sinking Ship Productions, a theater company based in Brooklyn, NY. For more information about the upcoming Baltimore run of A Hunger Artist and for tickets, click here. 

Josh and Jon join Tom on the line from Argot Studios in New York.

ALAN DAVIDSON/SILVERHUB/REX/SHUT

From Hollywood to New York, a constant barrage of sexual harassment allegations against icons and wannabes alike in the news and entertainment industry continues unabated.  Two fixtures on New York public radio are among the latest to be accused of misconduct. 

On Wednesday, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, were placed on leave by New York Public Radio while the company investigates the claims made against them.  Mr. Lopate said that he wasn’t apprised of what the claims were or who made them.  He told the New York Times, quote, “I am sure any honest investigation will completely clear me.”

The actor Danny Masterson was written out of the Netflix series, The Ranchfollowing allegations of rape, and Dustin Hoffman was confronted by John Oliver at a screening Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York about published reports of his sexual misconduct.

How is all of this impacting the business and culture of Hollywood?  And will it change the power dynamic of fans, critics and movie idols? 

Joining us to talk about all of this -- and about some of the great new Oscar-contending films being released in the final weeks of 2017 -- are Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, and Maryland Film Festival founder and director, Jed Dietz. As always, listeners are welcome to join the conversation as well.

Photo by Glenn Ricci

It's time for our weekly conversation with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with a review of Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, a post-apocalyptic fantasy in three acts by playwright Anne Washburn, being produced by Cohesion Theatre Company at "The Fallout Shelter" at Baltimore's United Evangelical Church.

The play asks a series of questions:  What happens to pop culture after the fall of human civilization? What about 7 years after the fall? Or even 75 years?

Mr. Burns runs those scenarios out over three time-shifting acts. When nuclear power plants across the country begin to “go up,” a group of survivors gather in the woods and begin to recount an episode of The Simpsons.  As Cohesion Theatre Company's program describes it, "casual storytelling evolves into theater, theater evolves into ritual, and one Simpsons episode evolves into a myth and legend for a post-apocalyptic world."

Cohesion Theatre Company's Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, directed by Lance Bankerd, continues at "The Fallout Shelter" at United Evangelical Church, located at 923 S. East Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224, until December 17th.  For ticket and location info, click here.

Mary Rose Madden/WYPR

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh was sworn into office one year ago today. Unemployment in Baltimore is the lowest it’s been in many years; 6,000 more people are now working than before she took office.

But all of the Mayor’s efforts, as well as those of the Police Commissioner and the City Council have been overshadowed by the violence that has plagued our city ever since the riots and uprising that followed the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. As 2017 draws to a close, Baltimore is on track to record more than 1,000 shootings, more than a third of which have ended in death.

Today on Midday, we examine violence in Baltimore City. Luke Broadwater from the Baltimore Sun talks about some of the initiatives that Mayor Pugh and Gov. Larry Hogan have introduced in just the last couple of days.

Later in the program, Tom speaks with Akai Alston, who is working in Sandtown Winchester in a program called U-TURNS, which helps young people living in one of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to build resiliency and overcome trauma, including violence. 

But first, Lester Davis joins Tom in Studio A.  Davis serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Baltimore City Council President Jack Young. Council President Young is the lead sponsor of a Youth Fund, which this year will total about $12 million.  The fund is expected to be approved by the City Council when it meets tomorrow night. 

Royal wedding fever has spread across the pond and here in the United States. Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, will wed American actress Meghan Markle. Along with wedding plans and elaborate fascinators, much of the conversation about this royal engagement has centered on race. Ms. Markle is biracial, her mother is black and her father is white. Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland, College Park joins Tom for Midday Culture Connections to talk about royalty, race, and identity. 

Kelsey Parks Smith also joins from England. She’s a postgraduate student in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. She's also Dr. Park's daughter. 

 

What does financial literacy mean in this day and age, and what should it mean, in particular for women?

Around 72% of high school valedictorians are girls, and there are more women enrolled in college than men. Yet, when it comes to money, there is a long history of men handling the finances of individual households and corporations. The financial services industry remains a male-dominated business., How does that affect how women approach the challenges of financial decision making?  

 

Patricia Stallworth is the founder of PS Worth, a financial education company,  She's a certified financial planner who spent many years in the financial industry. She's also the author of the forthcoming book  Wise, Wealthy Women, released next month. 

 

Betsy Kelder is the Executive Director of Invest in Girls; a program that works to teach financial literacy to high school girls and help foster future careers in finance.    

Dominique Maria Bonessi

On this edition of Midday with The Afro, the manhunt is still underway for the person who fatally shot and killed Baltimore Detective Sean Suiter nearly three weeks ago. Police and state officials have offered a $215,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailant, and on Friday, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced that the FBI will be taking over the investigation. 

Also, as Rep. John Conyers remains hospitalized, a look at reaction to the allegations of harassment made against the Ohio Congressman and the repeated calls for him to step down.

Kamau High is the  managing editor of the Afro American Newspapers. He joins Tom in studio.

Among the stories on this week's edition of the Midday News Wrap:  former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appears in federal court in Washington to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador.  The plea provides another indication that General Flynn is cooperating with that investigation. 

Just in time for the holiday, a new movie called The Man Who Invented Christmas is opening in movie theaters across the country. The film tells the story of 19th-century British novelist Charles Dickens and how he came to write his immortal classic. It's a story that will be of special interest in the Eastern Shore community of Chestertown, Maryland, which this weekend is launching a festival that celebrates the famous scribe. 

Photo courtesy CBS News

Our guest today is Heather Mizeur, the former Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate who has a new project called Soul Force Politics.   The project lives online at MizMaryland.org, and includes a  weekly podcast and a policy blog, and will eventually run women-empowerment workshops.

In her podcast conversations with guests like Melissa Etheridge, Gov. Larry Hogan, or film maker and actor Sonja Sohn, she makes the case that spirituality should not be divorced from our political discourse. And her new project explores the merging of what she calls inner wisdom and external actions, and how that union can animate political movements. 

Photo by Joan Marcus

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for our visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us each week with her review of one of the region's many thespian offerings. This week, she tells us about the new touring production of The Lion King, the Tony-Award-winning musical on stage at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre until December 10th.

A stage adaptation of Disney's Academy Award-winning 1994 animation, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion prince born into a royal pride of African lions. Simba idolizes his regal father, Mufasa, but resists the responsibilities of his status in the pride.  When his wicked uncle Scar seals his grip on power by taking his father’s life, Simba flees to neighboring lands, leaving the life he knew behind. Eventually, his responsibility to family comes calling on the adult prince, and Simba is persuaded to challenge his powerful uncle, bring goodness back to his ancestral home, and fulfill his destiny to be king.

Directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor, The Lion King is the highest grossing Broadway production of all time. The score by Elton John and Tim Rice features the songs “The Circle of Life,” “I Just Can't Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” The show has been seen by over 90 million people worldwide, with 24 productions happening around the globe.

The touring production of The Lion King stars Gerald Caesar as Simba, Mark Campbell as Scar, Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa, Buyi Zama as Rafiki, Nia Holloway as Nala, Greg Jackson as Zazu, Ben Lipitz as Pumbaa and Nick Cordileone as Timon.

The Lion King continues at the Hippodrome Theatre until Sunday, December 10th.  For ticket information and showtimes, click here.

Pages