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08-22-15 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 212: Felicia Day, 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'

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Here's the two-hundred and tweflth episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the how many?-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead hopelessly behind, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning some kind of echo effect. This week, I seem to be on top of the game, but who knows what the hell might happen. Whatever ity was, its happened. I am hoping to stay back up and stumbling.

This particular Time to Read has lots of material not in the main interiew, so make sure you give it a listen.

The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.

My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The two-hundred and twelfth episode is a look at Felicia Day and 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 212: Felicia Day, 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'




08-21-15: Claire McCaskill is 'Plenty Ladylike'

Internalizing Determination to Overcome Sexism

Claire McCaskill wastes no time getting to the point in 'Plenty Ladylike.' In the opening passage, we meet a young woman seeking office for the first time, knocking on 11,432 doors. One potential constituent, a man (it matters), looks her up and down and then says, "You're too young. Your hair is too long. You're a girl. No way are you tough enough for politics. Those politicians in Jeff City'd eat you alive. Go find yourself a husband."

Suffice it to say she didn't follow his advice and instead turned it into energy and determination to help her maintain her drive. 'Plenty Ladylike' is a top-notch memoir that moves like lightning and keeps it's focus. Having set scene, McCaskill introduces us to her very deeply American family, men and women who all found the time to involve themselves in civic matters. From high school on, McCaskill learned that getting to know voters and their needs and desires was the best way to earn their votes.

But 'Plenty Ladylike' has a rather dark side as well. In her journeys through politics, most in the South (I think this matters), McCaskill encountered a steady stream of overt sexism. She was given very un-ladylike appellations by men who should have known better. While we are currently being slapped in the face by the visions of our incipient racism, we're clearly not past sexism either, not by a long shot. McCaskill's experiences are disturbingly eye-opening. Apparently we are not better than this.

All of this makes for a toe-tapping, tense read. even as she campaigned for the Senate as recently as 2012, McCaskill found herself in a battle where she her deep, smart knowledge of the political process to outwit her ultra-sexist opponents. We all know what he said. Finding out what she thought is a joyful revelation. Claire McCaskill reveals herself to be 'Plenty Ladylike,' and redefines the term at the same time. In her world, in our world, "ladylike" means smart, determined, unwavering, pragmatic and honorable. These are exactly the qualities I want to see in any politician, regardless of sex or party. There are plenty of scenes in this book that will make your hair stand on end. How you handle the styling afterward is up to you.

I spoke with Claire McCaskill at KQED. Here's a link to the "lightning round" version of our conversation.

Here's a link to the complete conversation.




08-21-15: Emily Schultz Unleashes 'The Blondes'

A Cure by Color

Hazel is talking to her unborn child, preparing that child for the world that is being undone and created anew right before her eyes. It begins in our workaday life when a blonde woman attacks a victim on the subway before Helen's eyes. It's the first observed evidence of what comes to be called Blonde Rabies, a plague that turns any woman with blonde hair into a crazed pretty unstoppable killer. It's the beginning of the end.

Complicating this is the fact that Helen, a grad student is pregnant with her married advisor's child. Sex in all its weird compulsions, proves to be our undoing. It's not as if this should be surprising.

What is surprising, and pleasantly so, is that Schultz does everything right to bring an almost absurd premise to life. Her characters are closely observed and seamlessly, simultaneously both likable and annoying. As her speculative premise unfolds she builds her world in a small scale but with big implications. 'The Blondes' is a very odd novel; it's very funny, very dark, both uncomfortably realistic and sarcastically surreal.

Schultz creates a compelling cast of characters and tells the story in a very engaging voice. We like Hazel, even if we disapprove of some of her decisions. And the angry blondes who seem capable of bringing an end to civilization are weirdly sympathetic. It's a true pleasure to read this novel and enjoy the page-turning plot, the mordant humor, the characters we care about and as well feel the rumblings intellectual and cultural fireworks underneath the surface fury. Here's a book that perfectly combines summer reading with the long thoughts of fall. No matter what color your hair is, it is true you'll have more fu when you're reading 'The Blondes.'

I spoke with Emily Schultz at KQED. Here's a link to our "lightning round" short form interview.

Here's a link to the in-depth conversation.



New to the Agony Column

07-11-15: Commentary : Robert Repino Morphs 'Mort(e)' : Housecat to Harbinger of the Apocalypse

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Robert Repino : "...an even bigger threat. which is us, the humans..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 209: Robert Repino : Mort(e)

07-05-15: Commentary : Dr. Michael Gazzaniga Tells Tales from Both Sides of the Brain : A Life in Neuroscience Reveals the Life of Science

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Michael Gazzaniga : "We made the first observation and BAM there was the disconnection effect..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 208: Michael Gazzaniga : Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience

06-26-15: Commentary : Neal Stephenson Crafts an Eden for 'Seveneves' : Blow It Up and Start All Over Again

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Neal Stephenson : "...and know that you're never going to se a tree again..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 207: Neal Stephenson : Seveneves

06-03-15: Commentary : Dan Simmons Opens 'The Fifth Heart' : Having it Every Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Dan Simmons : "...yes, they really did bring those bombs..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 206: Dan Simmons : The Fifth Heart

05-23-15: Commentary : John Waters Gets 'Carsick' : Going His Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with John Waters : "...you change how you would be in real life...”

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 205: John Waters : Carsick

05-09-15: Commentary : Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD and 'Shrinks' : A Most Fashionable Take on the Human Mind

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : "..its influence to be as hegemonic as it was..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 204: Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

04-29-15: Commentary : Barney Frank is 'Frank' : Interpersonally Ours

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Barney Frank : "...while you're trying to change it, don't ignore it..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 203: Barney Frank : Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage

04-21-15: Commentary : Kazuo Ishiguro Unearths 'The Buried Giant' : The Mist of Myth and Memory

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro : ".... by the time I was writing this novel, the lines between what was fantasy and what was real had blurred for me..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 202: Kazuo Ishiguro : The Buried Giant

04-17-15: Commentary : Erik Larson Follows a 'Dead Wake' : Countdown to Destiny

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Erik Larson : "...said to have been found in the arms of a dead German sailor..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 201: Erik Larson : Dead Wake

04-15-15: Commentary : Peter Bell Reflects 'A Certain Slant of Light' : Strange Stories of Modern Scholars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Peter Bell : "...I looked up some of the old books..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 200: Peter Bell : Strange Epiphanies and A Certain Slant of Light

03-14-15: Commentary : Marc Goodman Foresees 'Future Crimes' : Exponential Potential

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Marc Goodman : "...every physical object around us is being transformed, one way or another, into an information technology..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 199: Marc Goodman : Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

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