Redux: Stephen Colbert Makes Me Snarf, Even On the Radio

Apres-ski boots are where it's at. So says Stephen Colbert in defense of the creepy little outfit he'll wear on his upcoming Christmas spectacular. But don't worry, he has a cozy white cable knit sweater to go along with those mukluks (and, um, pants too).

It is a bit strange to hear his disembodied voice on Fresh Air. He seemed so human during his interview with Terry Gross that I wasn't sure if it was really him. But his story about literally standing on his head to entertain a Philadelphia audience rang true.

Oh Stephen Colbert, if anyone can get us in the Christmas spirit, it's you.

Redux: Did Someone Say Mac & Cheese?

I guess it is a small world after all, at least when it comes to the economy. So what kind of comfort foods are our international friends using to drown out their sorrows? NPR has the run down:

- Germany: Veal covered in mushrooms that smells like vinegar... and cinnamon?
- India: Split peas or lentils with cumin, chili, and mustard seeds. Yum, dal.
- Mexico: Corn tortillas dipped in beans and covered in cheese. Beans + corn + cheese = delicious.

But the best part is reading listeners' comments like this one, "Oh that versatile Spam, asian and white people unite." Over spam, really?

Maybe this is more my style. "I love my mom's chicken soup because she makes it with big egg noodles and huge chunks of carrots and celery."

Throw in a matzoh ball and you've got a deal.

Photo by Sporky

Redux: A Golden Radio Moment

Good radio takes you on a mental journey. Great radio drops you smack in the middle of a living photograph. Erin Davis' Third Coast winning documentary "Except Me" does just that.

It's the story of a brother and sister going through the everyday strains that all siblings endure. What makes them unique is that Andrew has Asperger’s Syndrome. He chatters not-stop about snakes and cheetahs, demanding his big sister Marissa's attention. He also needs her protection. As much as she'd like to punch him half the time, she'll put the smack down on anyone who beats her to it.

It's a complicated relationship, one that Erin had trouble defining while she was a student at Salt. But by simply spending time with Marissa and Andrew, she captures the nuances of their relationship, revealing kindness and complexity.

I won't ruin the story by revealing the final scene, but it truly is one of those golden radio moments. You can almost see the sun casting shadows on the backyard and feel the breeze whipping through the Maine pines. That's how visceral Erin's storytelling is. I've been living in that joyous final scene for weeks. It's a beautiful place to be.

Blog: And The Winner Is...

And the winner of Name That Sound is... Brian Agosta with this charming guess:
"Trap Jaw from He-man gargles with salt-water the morning after this happens: "

Close, very close. In fact, close enough to win our homemade prize. But the correct answer is:

"A foley mill crushes bright red apples, slowly churning them into applesauce."

In case you've never seen a foley mill, they look like this.

Thanks to everyone who played our little game. Brian, email me your address and the postal service will bring you something bright and shiny (although not necessarily new) in the mail.

Redux: Day After Buzz... about Fungus?

From flesh-eating fish to creepy dolls with big eyes, NPR's "Most Emailed Stories" (MES) has often baffled us. I decided to check out what made the top tier on the day after the presidential election when the country was a-buzz with excitement and contemplation over what the new administration would bring.

Half hoping MES would be void of any Obama or McCain stories and filled to the brim-ity goodness with more of the usual, I'm happy to report I wasn't let down.

On November 5, the day after Barack Obama was elected president, the most emailed stories (wait for it) included a Krulwich piece on obesity-fighting gut bacteria and, my personal favorite, a scientific discovery of a fungus that could fuel cars. Oh, Most Emailed Stories, how you always come through for me.

"fungus focus" by flickr member dawnzy58

Blog: Name That Sound!

It's time to play.... Name That Sound! The exciting new game where we upload 10 seconds of an unusual noise and you come up with a ridiculous guess as to what it could be. You get one hint:

- Red

Now post your guess as a comment. The most creative guess wins... something. It'll be a surprise. We'll reveal the source of the sound on Monday.

Blog: When Times are Tough, the Tough Listen Online

Yes, we know. The economy is in a tailspin. If I hear one more story about how Americans are eating out less, swapping the multiplex for DVDs, and skipping out bowling night, I'm gonna cry. But the truth is clear - there's less entertainment cash to go around these days.

Enter: NPR's Live in Concert series. No $45 concert tickets here, all you need is a high speed internet connection and a pair of ears. Take your pick from Lou Reed, Fleet Foxes, Tom Waits and more.

No need to pay big bucks for a backstage pass either. Slideshows, interviews, and other all-access features abound. It's a full concert going experience in the comfort of your own home. Now if only my iPod served beer...

Photo of Fleet Foxes at The Grey Eagle by Rich Orris

Blog: It's (Almost) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Thanksgiving, Christmas, yadda yadda. Public radio nerds wait all year for this: the newest season of Radio Lab. The fifth season of this wonderfully irreverent show about science, morality, and the world's great mysteries kicks off at 3pm on Friday November 14th on WNYC with a show about Choice.

Does free will exist? Is there such a thing as too many choices? What happens when emotion gets in the way? If you'd like to weigh in, co-host Jad Abumrad will be live chatting with listeners from 4-5pm on Friday at The Morning News. There's no doubt that zealous Radio Lab fans will also be in attendance.

Blog: NPR Announces New CEO

Today NPR announced that Vivian Schiller, senior VP and general manager of, has been appointed as the network's new president and CEO. She'll start in January. Congrats, NPR!

Redux: Studs, We Miss You

If anyone deserved a double blog posting in tribute to him, it is Studs Terkel. Studs, I miss you and am grateful that the world had you in it for as long as it did - 96 years! You are a documentarian's hero and just plain lovable, as this StoryCorps snippet will show.

In 2005, StoryCorps traveled to Chicago and made a stop in Studs' driveway - the only time they ever made a visit to someone's home. I'd love to hear the entire interview, but these two minutes will resonate with anyone who has tired of travel, of being surrounded by throngs of people who refuse to engage. Speak it, Studs.