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Comment on piece: The Book

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Review of The Book

The story itself was good. I liked the voice of the person also. It made me want to listen to more by Hans.

Comment on piece: 1000 Postcards

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Review of 1000 Postcards

A very sweet and personal story told by a daughter about her father sending her postcards everyday she was away at college. It became something more than what was intend and touched lives of many of the studets at the school the daughter attended.

Very good.

Comment on piece: Of A Piece

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Review of Of A Piece

I like to hear people talking so effortlessly about "my Dad." So much of what I hear about Dad's is that they are deadbeats, aren't pulling their weight, or are in some way responsible for the demise of the family. Well, a lot of times they (we?) are. But, it's good to hear these stories about Dads where he's a loved man, a good guy.

I heard this piece originally on Transom, and it's a good one, worthy of any time slot it can be given. Michelle covers a lot of how the story came about on Transom.org (http://www.transom.org/shows/2004/200401_ofapiece.html). I like the fact that her narration is unscripted. I'm not sure I can easily identify what it does exactly, maybe it gives it a continuous spontaneity, instead of only being spontaneous during the interview points. Some of the tape is noisy, but it's put together well and gives a different perspective on Father's Day.

There are some honest moments in this piece. This isn't about puzzles, really, it's about a relationship that uses puzzles as the MacGuffin.

Comment on piece: God is Talking to Me

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Review of God is Talking to Me

A Father's Day story with a twist that still ends up being a Father's Day story. Hans Anderson is the knuckle-baller in PRX: He amuses, he challenges, he fools, he cajoles from one story to the next. Here he captures one curiously common feature of Father's Day narratives -- the absent father -- and creates something immense, even while endorsing the happy-finding-of-Dad motif.

In this story particularly, Anderson reminds us that when we tell stories, we are all too often at sleep behind the wheel. Some will argue that this is fiction: Well, that never stopped you from presenting White House coverage.

PDs: You've got a week here: Drop Don Gonyea and 9 mins. plus at the White House for this. Your listeners will love you.

Comment on piece: The Imaginary Village

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Review of The Imaginary Village

This is a lovely impressionistic piece rich with imagery and feeling. More than a story or narrative, it's a record of loss and it succeeds by working almost entirely on an emotional level. It's stirring and stays with you; it's maddening and confounding. Seen from here, the Middle East conflict looks impenetrable and the headlines simply repetitive and tiresome. Seen from the Imaginary Village, it seems much closer to home.

Comment on piece: 1000 Postcards

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Review of 1000 Postcards

A wonderful piece when I first heard it on Transom, a delight to hear again. Everything is so absolutely natural in the layout and design of the piece. Here's a father everyone can love and a daughter not ashamed to admit it.

A real treat for an otherwise fabricated holiday.

Comment on piece: Dads

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Review of Dads

There are unexpectedly poignant moments in these brief interviews which are somehow simultaneously casual and intimate. Because of the collage treatment, you don't really get to know any individual characters--either the speakers or their fathers--in a coherent way, but instead, you receive an oddly affecting composite portrait of fathers, or, more precisely, the EFFECT of fathers. The ending is a bit truncated, leaving you with a mid-stream feeling. For that reason, I'd recommend using this in a larger context, as an element in a larger consideration of fathers. If anything, this piece should be longer, more developed, which might give it more cumulative impact

Comment on piece: God is Talking to Me

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Review of God is Talking to Me

Edgy and artful and funny and provocative and compelling. Sean Cole's review is dead on. But where can it air? This is not your father's Father's Day special -- and I hope its fate will be something more than being just an underground hit for audioheads. It would make a great pick for any station that does an audio showcase. And the first AAA station that dares to broadcast this piece during music programming, even if late at night, should get the PRX medal of valor.

Comment on piece: Think About Your Movies

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Review of Think About Your Movies

In this commentary/essay against bad movies, the essayist expands his thoughts to culture in general and television in particular, why art doesn't satisfy most people, and why South Park is more artsy than just about any other television show. The narrator makes the point that if you don't have to think about it at all, it's not art. And, he says, the worst films and television shows are biggest hits.

This goes back to what my R/TV professor told me in one mass media class: popular movies and shows are popular because they appeal to the most people. This is obvious. But the reason they appeal to the most people is that they are middle-of-the-road. It is just like that vanilla party guest who won't be trapped in a stand, neither pro or anti, nor, as it turns out, is he interesting. To be interesting, you need to actually say something, not just exist for a laugh track or to be the show most people watch.

The personal perspective is from a video store clerk, those that I imagine have seen so many movies -- it's almost a job requirement after all -- that they are sick of vanilla and probably pity the rest of us that aren't yet.

This piece is well-thought-out and makes good points without being too stuck up about art. I think most PR listeners can identify and will agree with this essay.

Comment on piece: God is Talking to Me

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Review of God is Talking to Me

This piece is exhausting to listen to, but in a good way. I didn't catch every word, but that is part of the point, and the important (and very funny) parts were clear and made for a very amusing, well-written and well-presented piece of storytelling. If I had to describe what this is 'about', I am not sure I would be able to do so. I'd just say, listen to it and find out yourself. I would love to hear this on the radio, anytime.

Comment on piece: God is Talking to Me

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Review of God is Talking to Me

This piece is just stunning, very surprising both in its production and its narrative. I don't think I've ever heard anything like it. There are shades of Joe Frank but that's pretty much the only comparison I can draw. Like Chelsea I don't want to spoil anything. Essentially, if you want your listeners to experience a serious "driveway moment" I can't recommend "God Is Talking To Me" more highly. I practically had a driveway moment myself and I was listening to it here at my desk.

Comment on piece: Wt Wd Jss Do?

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Review of Wt Wd Jss Do?

Another reviewer used the word, 'pithy', and I couldn't agree more, pithy, with a machine gun delivery. Dennis Miller for Public Radio. Not appropriate for all stations in the spectrum, but for those stations where it would work, it could be very popular. The overall tone is instantly recognizable, and with regular airings of this artist's work, could develop a familiarity that listener's would come to look forward to, if effectively programmed.

Comment on piece: Outsource This!

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Review of Outsource This!

Loved this for it's content and delivery, would make for a great weekly feature. Reminds me of 'Dr. Science' with a social bent. The rapid fire pacing would make for a great contrast against some of the more meditative content normally associated with Public Radio. Off to listen to more pieces.

Comment on piece: "Out of the Ashes: Teatro la Fenice"

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Review of "Out of the Ashes: Teatro la Fenice"

There's a good story in here with some strong elements but they're somewhat out of place. As someone not familiar with the opera world or Venice's place in it, I felt like I needed more of a handle before I was ready to be launched into the heart of the story. There's some interesting historic, literary and musical background in the middle of the piece that I could have used at the beginning. When the narrator mentions that Elton John played at the Teatro la Fenic, I was waiting to hear "Crocodile Rock." Where have you gone Savvy Traveler? Is there an outlet for travel pieces on public radio now? Maybe stations need to create their own....

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Review of Hello Finland (deleted)

This piece has a TAL sensibility: a young man confronts his adolescence by listening to tapes he made as a lonely teenager. It's a good story; it's poignant and sweet and the "moment of reflection" as Ira calls it isn't what you'd expect. Listening to his younger melancholy, self-conscious self, Eric doesn't cringe from an out of body audio nightmare. He wonders thoughtfully what "he'd" say to him now. What would "he" think of him and how much of "him" was left? The story inspires a kind of Proustian retrospection: Beware the Remembrance of Tapes Past.

Comment on piece: 1000 Postcards

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Review of 1000 Postcards

I heard this on Transom.org last year. Very well done. I love the way it starts... "That's my Dad." This is a sweet piece and many fathers might start looking around for the person cutting onions while hearing this one. In radio, the short and sweet is often the best, and the sound of Dad calling out the stops, of him reading the post cards, and of Renee's short narration in between, fits so nicely into a salute to the father's salute to his daughter.

This one is perfect for Father's Day.

Comment on piece: Naked Barbies and Deflated Basketballs: A look inside the world of collectors

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Review of Naked Barbies and Deflated Basketballs: A look inside the world of collectors

Nothing big to add from the other reviewers, but I love the way the peace flows and the little stories that come out of what could easily be mundane. Collectors would like this piece more than me, and I liked it quite a bit.

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: Song of the Corridistas

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Review of SONG OF THE CORRIDISTAS

I would to like to have heard more music to get the feel of the piece. But I did find it very interesting.

Comment on piece: Circus Life: To Catch the Quad

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Review of Circus Life: To Catch the Quad

This documentary illustrates circus life by sharing the stories of two trapeze artists, a 1920s star, Alfredo Cadona, and a contemporary artist, Jill Pages, who is attempting execute a quadruple somersault.

The piece is deceptively simple. It tells the complex and emotional story knitting together historical and contemporary circus performers. The piece does a much better job of expressing life in the 20s-era circus and Cadona's colorful world, with only cursory treatment of the contemporary circus life.

Cadona didn't use a mechanic--the safety belt that protects the flier from falling to the ground. He felt it would help him master his triple somersault. While contemporary circus life is much more hospitable than the past, time has only raised the bar (so to speak) on circus stunts. Pages is the only woman in the world to complete a three-and-a-half turn somersault. When she is introduced, the documentary switches focus--zeroing in on Pages' ego (in the psychological sense), with less emphasis on the circus life that surrounds here. The tragic end of Cadona's career is interwoven with Page's fears about achieving her dream--the elusive quadruple somersault.

The producer/narrator's writing is impeccable, but the delivery style sounds a little dated. The production and mixing is about as good as it gets.

This would be an excellent choice for a stand-alone offering in a rotating slot or as part of a larger program. Too bad there isn't a promo available here.

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: Soldiering On

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Review of RN Documentary: Soldiering On

Billed simply as a look at a soldier's experience in battle, but it goes much further. The music is depressing, but the content is not always, even though we are talking serious and emotional issues.

This piece alternates between World War II veterans Robert Taylor and John Jones, and historian Steven Bromwell. The historian is there for perspective, but not simply World War II (he comments on the uniqueness of the way Arnhem -- part of the unsuccessful Operation Market-Garden -- fell into small unit battles, battles within battles), he puts us into the minds of a soldier through Waterloo, Wellington and Napoleon. Not just Wellington, but of the men on the field, the men who couldn't see beyond the effective firing distance of their muskets.

I can't underscore how effective this is. They are not building parallels between battles, but of emotions of battles, of the state of mind of the soldier, of having five bullet holes in your parachute canopy, but none in you. Of seeing rows of beautiful French homes dropped to piles of rubble and licked with flames.

This all alternates with a dry historian talking about what motivates a soldier... patriotism can only take you so far. Boom, back to World War II and one of the veterans. Boom, back to Bromwell.

Probably this isn't a new technique, and while I'm not as well-listened as I'd like, I don't think I've heard this type of thing done this well before.

I had to listen hard, and to the beginning twice, because I didn't pick up the accents that well, and the dynamics are all over the place. This could be a problem on the one-shot-is-all-you-got radio, but it is so intimate that you can hear the kinks in the voice, the sighs "I'm not going to make it." "Who is gonna next? Am I gonna get it, or is he gonna get it?" No emotion is edited out. The sound effects of battle, used sparingly, are used effectively, and mostly (maybe always) when the historian is speaking, or in bridges between the vets and the historian.

The sfx do not impede the piece, just adding the sounds to help the brain along, nudging it toward the realizations that the voices were pointing to.

Piece goes well beyond war, to questioning why, and what did it accomplish, why should I kill a fellow man?

The war went on. The buildup in Europe took longer than the fighting, but the fighting took long enough, and in brutal conditions, cold, hunger, pain, doubt, fear. These two veterans, Taylor and Jones, bring us close into the fold. I'm not going to pretend I know the fear of battle, but I know what veterans feel.

There is nothing to date this to one year... mark a spot for timely pieces for the final Monday in May and look for this piece again.