The 1800s composition “Vexations,” by Erik Satie, comes with a cryptic instruction to perform the piece 840 times in a row. Many thought that it couldn’t be done, but in the late 1960s, John Cage and some friends decided to give it a shot.
Brendan Bradley has studied acting for years. It's going well - he's featured in five films that are making the film festival rounds across the country. But they don't pay so well. Between the economy and the writer's strike of last year, the industry is riding a downswing. To make ends meet, Brendan discovered his inner talent as a writer and director … of YouTube commercials.
Ryo Souma is an art teacher in Japan. His school is about 35 miles from the damaged nuclear reactor, so he and his students wear face masks to guard against radioactive particles. They wear the masks to school, and during lessons. He says that the stories of those who lost lives and loved ones in the tsunami are being told … but his story, the story of the impact of radiation, is not.
Leili Pritschet's family descends from Iranian royalty. As a young girl, Leili learned to dance. Her training took her abroad, but she returned home to teach classical Iranian dance to the children of foreigners, principally Americans, living in the country. Then came the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Also in this episode, a grandmother tests her granddaughter's lunch box for lead, and listener Linda Powell.
Violence overtook Kingston, Jamaica last week when authorities hunted for an alleged drug lord in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. More than 70 were killed, and the manhunt continues. Ann McNamee is the director of the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica, which serves as a crime prevention program for at-risk youth. It holds its rehearsals in the danger zone. Also in the show: An Israeli and a Palestina meet secretly to find new solutions.
Alison Donahue and Mike Wilhelm perform as the duo Cello Bella. They've discovered that Depression-era songs have a particular appeal for audiences today. The music is cheerful and hopeful and fun. And Alison and Mike aren't just reviving those old songs. They have used the music to turn themselves around as well.
The federal Farm Bill sitting before a House committee may end up reducing or eliminating subsidies for crops like cotton. Depending on what happens, it could mean the end of a way of life for one man, Zack Killegrew, who tells guest host Scott Jagow about how farming cotton got into his blood - despite the bugs, the hurricanes and market disasters. In fact, Zack says that if he ever won the lottery, he'd still farm. Scott also talks to Gerald Helferich, author of "High Cotton," a book in which Zack Killegrew is featured. Also on the show: a coach's decision to play his less talented players during the championship game.