Monthly Archives: December 2002

Board Games

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It starts with Candy Land. At the age of 3, you might get hooked on moving your gingerbread man around the Gumdrop Mountains and through the Molasses Swamp. Soon you advance to Chutes and Ladders and Parcheesi. Then comes the day you discover Monopoly.

Even at a time when kids develop super-strong thumbs playing computer games, old-fashioned board games still have their players 4 to adult. The International Council of Toy Industries says twelve per cent of the toys sold worldwide are games and puzzles. And though the packaging may be new, most of these games have long, long histories.

They’re a window to how we feel about right and wrong, winning and losing. The games we play and the stories that they tell about us, stories not always as sweet as Candy Land.


Irving Finkel, Assistant Keeper, Department of the Ancient Near East, the British Museum

Margaret Hofer, curator, “The Games We Played”, New-York Historical Society.

Lott's Last Stand?

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It is now five apologies and counting in Trent Lott’s self-propelled Senate leadership rescue campaign; the latest, a mea culpa on Black Entertainment Television featuring Lott condemning what he now calls a history of “immoral leadership” by whites in the South and pledging to push an pro-minority agenda. If only his colleagues would let him stick around.

But the long knives of Washington are out. Conservative Senators and pundits alike are calling for Lott’s resignation and the President is refusing to throw him a lifeline. But is this latest public display of moral outrage really about Trent Lott’s thoughtless, racist remarks at a birthday party, or is Lott being served up as a sacrificial victim, to stave off a deeper examination of where the Republican party stands on race? The ghost of Jim Crow past, and the conservative altar of sacrifice.


Will Saletan, chief political correspondent for Slate magazine

Eric Stringfellow, columnist at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS

Jim Herring, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Who's Afraid of Modern Music?

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Quiz time again. I want you to name a few classical or serious music composers. Okay, hands off the buzzers. What have you got? We see Beethoven and Bach, Tchaikovsky and Mozart. No one on the list from this century, no one on the list from the last century.

Yes? A question? Oh, you don’t like the music of modern composers. All drony or squawky, not easy to listen to? Fair comment. And it’s true that some of those composers don’t care if you listen to them or not. But there are young composers who are hearkening back to the classics, ignoring claims that their work is derivative, and producing music that is pleasing to play and to hear.

We are talking about the future of serious music this hour, asking whether modern music offers something the classics can’t.


Lowell Liebermann, composer

Gil Rose, artistic director, Boston Modern Orchestra Project

Christos Koulendros, composer

Al Jazeera

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More and more people around the world turn to TV for their news in times of crisis. And it’s into this chatter of hype and opinion and exclusives that Al Jazeera has beamed itself. The Arabic language station has made headlines of its own with Bin laden tapes, and live reports from Afghanistan and Ramallah.

Now, in preparation for a war in Iraq, Al Jazeera is pumping up its Washington bureau, ready to push its provocative motto. “The Opinion and The Other Opinion”. Americans, Israelis and others regard Al Jazeera with suspicion, but even as a voice of the Arab world, the new satellite station is under pressure from Arab governments, which find its journalism a bit too pointed.

Like it or not, respect it or not, Al Jazeera will have a major role in the months ahead.


Hafez Al-Mirazi, Washington bureau chief, Al Jazeera Television

John R. MacArthur, publisher, Harper’s Magazine

Charlie Haden on Bass

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Charlie Haden made his stage debut with his family singing group before his second birthday. His mother knew he was ready when she heard baby Charlie humming harmonies to her lullabies.

It was that same intuitive sense of harmony and melody that put Charlie Haden, years later, at the forefront of jazz.

Curled around his big double bass, Haden became the anchor, the beat and the tune, and one of the most exciting and challenging moments in jazz music history.

After leaving his fingerprints all over free-jazz, with Ornette Coleman, he moved on to front the Liberation Music Orchestra, his political base. And then there’s his jazz noire Quartet West, straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel.

At 65, he’s still sharing his dreams of musical beauty.


Charlie Haden, Grammy-winning bassist, composer and bandleader

Alan Broadbent, piano player in Quartet West.

Vatican Accepts Cardinal's Resignation

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Pope John Paul II today accepted the resignation of Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, and with that, one of the most influential and important bishops in the United States, is brought down under the weight of a scandal that still has to be measured. More than 450 people are currently suing the Boston Archdiocese, alleging decades of sexual abuse by priests. Together their claims could total as much as $100 million dollars.

A growing number of lay Catholics and priests have been calling on Law to step down because of disclosures that he and other church officials repeatedly allowed priests who raped and molested children to continue their ministry. Today these groups are expressing relief, vindication, and uncertainty. The future of the Church.


Anne Barrett Doyle, co-founder of the Coalition of Concerned Catholics and Survivors;
James Post, president of Voice of the Faithful;
Scott Appleby, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame

Philip Saviano, head of the New England chapter of the Survivor’s Networks for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP);
WBUR reporter Monica Brady-Meyerov, who has been covering this story.

Children's Book Art

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“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!” Name that line. Better yet, name that image. Think wild things. Five fierce creatures with beaks and horns and terrible roars, each bowing in reverence to one self-possessed little boy named Max.

If the Maurice Sendak classic “Where the Wild Things Are” is etched indelibly in your mind, you already know the power of pictures. Half a century ago, The New York Times celebrated that power in its first roundup of the best illustrated children’s books. Since then, new classics have been forged of collage and gouache, oil and pen. Collectively, they are childhood memories worth framing. Fanciful backdrops for that magical space between wakefulness and sleep. The art and artfulness of children’s books.


Eden Ross Lipson, children’s book editor, The New Y ork Times

David Macaulay, author and illustrator of, among others, “The Way Things Work” and “Cathedral”

Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of, among others, “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen”

Al and Tipper Gore

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The last time Al Gore commanded the political spotlight was December 13, 2000. That was the day after the Supreme Court issued its decision on Bush v. Gore. The day Al Gore delivered his now famous concession speech: “I’ve seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It’s worth fighting for and that’s a fight I’ll never stop.”
And then, Al Gore disappeared. He is now back, touring the country with his wife, Tipper. They’re answering questions about their two new books, “Joined at The Heart” and “The Spirit of Family.” And also, their ideas. On the economy, the environment, the Democratic Party, the war on terror, and the war with Iraq.

And now the man who won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College, is deciding whether or how he plans to fight for the country, a country that he says is so worth fighting for.


Former Vice Presidential couple – Al and Tipper Gore.

World Literature: American Literary Isolationism

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The United States has been taking a lot of heat recently for its unilateralist tendencies, especially on international treaties, foreign policy and trade. But what about books? Champions of literary translation say the U.S. has the same blinkered approach when it comes to foreign novels.

Getting translated and published here takes, well, almost a Nobel Prize. The National Endowment for the Arts calculates that only about 300 works of literature are translated into English and published in America each year, and that, they say, constitutes a “crisis.”

At a time when cultural misunderstandings are breeding dangerous resentments, America’s literary bubble may be both a strategic and an intellectual liability. The last chapter in our series on world literature: the view from here.


Ilan Stavans, professor of Latin American and Latino Cultures at Amherst College, translator, author of “Borrowed Words”

Carol Janeway, Senior Editor and Vice President at Alfred A. Knopf publishing house.