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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.

Because music transcends language barriers and evokes emotion, it’s the tool one of this year’s ‘Open Society Institute Baltimore’ fellows intends has singled out: Amy Tenney plans to harness music’s therapeutic potential with her project, ‘Healing and Community Integration through Music for Refugees and Immigrants.’

Think again if you’ve been assuming curiosity is constant, like gravity. We talk to astrophysicist Mario Livio about his book, "Why: What Makes us Curious". Not only are some people more curious than others, and curious about different questions, but homo sapiens’ capacity for curiosity grew as its brain evolved. For all its variations, Livio deems curiosity an unstoppable drive. Original air date: July 11, 2017.

matryosha/flickr

Tony and Chef Cindy run through some last minute tricks and tips to make sure the holiday goes smoothly. And Chef provides some simple recipes that are fun for the whole family.

photo courtesy Gil Sandler

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.  

Creative Commons/Wikimedia

Nonprofits typically benefit from a flood of holiday donations … in dollars, gifts or time. We meet two women who take a more do-it-yourself approach to giving … by creating their own events to benefit those in need in Baltimore. Shannon Dixon will host her first  “Cookies and Hot Cocoa for the Homeless” event that will take place Sunday, on Christmas Eve from 6pm to 9pm. And Mary England is preparing for her second annual “Scarf Abandonment Project.” She talks about why promoting kindness is a worthy cause all year round.

Here's a Stoop Story from Taya Dunn Johnson about how being a rebellious fourth grader directly affected her Christmas that year -- a lesson that has stayed with her always. You can hear her story and others at stoopstorytelling.com.

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. 

Drivers know all too well the frustration of clogged roads. Experts at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology are diving in the ‘why’ --so deep into the data about traffic that about half the states turn to them for tools to manage congestion. CATT’s director Michael Pack says they can not only pinpoint the worst bottlenecks, but identify what caused them, how long the backups are, and how much they cost. Plus, Victor Henry and Ed Stylc, chief traffic-congestion management experts at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, tell us how they use data to make recommendations to the state. 

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. 

Too Many Toys

Dec 21, 2017

The holidays are a tempting time to shower children with toys. At the risk of sounding like the Grinch, a new study suggests that there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to children and toys.

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

_________________________________________________________________________ 

This holiday season, while you’re baking cookies and cakes, note that line “baking powder” in some recipes. In the final product, it is invisible and tasteless, but what does baking powder do? And how has it shaped American cooking?

Food historian Linda Civitello’s new book is “Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking”.

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.  

A portrait of a president, an probe of Southern cuisine, a reboot of the Black Panther comic books. We’ve got books suitable for all the readers in your life--young and old, fans of pop and counterculture. These titles are perfect to read over the holidays, to give as gifts, or to share among friends.

Cullen Nawalkowsky of Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse and Deborah Taylor of the Enoch Pratt Free Library share their picks for the best recent books. 

all photos by Wendel Patrick

This episode kicks off with a barber who’s been cutting hair in The Ville for 60 years, and it ends with the story of a woman who just recently became a proud homeowner in the neighborhood.  In between are beautiful, personal stories from mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, war veterans, preachers, urban gardeners, and more. Produced in collaboration with the podcast We Live Here and the neighborhood organization 4 The Ville, and made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

banjodawg/flickr

Tony and Chef Cindy take time to answer some of the most commonly asked wine questions...Yes, it is totally OK if you don't know how to pronounce the name of that Château in France.

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. 

University of Maryland Medical System

Asthma makes it difficult for thousands of Baltimoreans to breathe. Decrepit houses, trash and rodents can trigger asthma flare-ups. Would cleaning up poor housing cost less than frequent trips to the ER? A reporting partnership between Kaiser Health News and the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service looked deeply at where asthma flares up in Baltimore and what hospitals are doing about it.

We hear from Kaiser Health News’ senior correspondent Jay Hancock, and from one of the Capital News Service journalists who took part in that project--now a reporter for The Baltimore Sun--Talia Richardson.

Plus, the Breathmobile is run by the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. We speak to Dr. Mary Beth Bollinger, professor pediatrics, is the Breathmobile’s co-founder, and medical director.

More information at these links:

Kaiser Health News story - Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable to Neglect Than Fix

Capital News Service package of asthma stories - Home Sick

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project and the Abell Foundation documents stark difference in asthma hospitalization rates in rich versus poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, and reveals a dramatic drop in the far southern part of the city after a pair of nearby coal-fired power plants installed air pollution control devices in 2009. Asthma hospitalization rates in the zip codes for the Cherry Hill, Brooklyn, and Curtis Bay neighborhoods fell 57 percent between 2009 and 2013 – more than twice the drop citywide. 

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. 

Joan Gaither

Warm, cozy--and able to tell a story. We talk with artist and Baltimore native, Joan Gaither, who uses quilts to preserve and document American history. Her quilts are covered with beads, buttons, photos and fabrics of all colors. Now her quilts are on display at the Reginald F Lewis Museum in an exhibit called, “Freedom: Emancipation Quilted & Stitched”. Gaither describes putting her heart, soul, and identity into her quilts: It’s On the Record, after the news.

Ivy Bookshop

We revisit a conversation from July, 2013, with journalist Simeon Saunders Booker Jr. , who chronicled the Civil Rights movement for Jet and Ebony magazines. He died Dec. 10, 2017, at age 99. When he was 95, with his wife Carol McCabe Booker, he published a memoir called, Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter's Account of the Civil Rights Movement. (A warning: in recounting his travel through the South Booker used a racial slur. We have not censored it.) You can read his NYT obituary here and AFRO obituary here.

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."

Amit Peled

Dedication and hard work really can make childhood dreams come true. We meet international musician Amit Peled. He plays the cello once owned by Pablo Casals, the renowned musician who inspired him as a boy. The book, “A Cello Named Pablo,” tells the story, urging children to pursue their dreams. Then we visit Peled at his studio to learn what it’s like to teach and study at the world famous Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. Information about the book release and free concert on Dec. 17, 2017 at An Die Musik can be found 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.

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