Culture Crash 18-24: What’s a comedy award to do when no books are funny?

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Since the year 2000, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction has been given to what a panel of literature judges in the UK deem to be the funniest book of the year. The award is a big bottle of champagne, over 50 volumes of comedy writing, and the prestige of having a pig named after your novel. While the prize is silly, the competition is fierce. Since the award’s inception, it has been given to notable titles like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries. Some years, the competition has been incredibly stiff, like in 2003 when Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi was named as a finalist but did not win.

This year, the judges ran into a different problem. According to David Campbell, a publisher and one of the judges for the prize, none of the submissions made the panel laugh. He explained that because none of the books were deemed worthy, he and his fellow judges quote “decided to withhold the prize this year to maintain the extremely high standards of comic fiction.”

While it is seemingly bad news that no books published in a year span were deemed worthy of a comedy prize, there is some good news: The judges announced they will be rolling this year’s prize over to next year. So aspiring comedy writers, take note: You have several months to get a hilarious manuscript published to have a shot at two bottles of champagne and maybe they’ll even agree to name not one but two pigs after your novel.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-24

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Creating Better Teams

Teamwork is seen as a premium in our culture. We believe that two is better than one. But entrepreneur and author Shane Snow says that we often don’t use our groups and teams to their fullest potential. He gives us the science behind why, and how we can improve our communities.

The Value of Our Public Libraries

Public libraries have existed for generations and have long been one of our most cherished community services. But with budget cuts has come a pinch on library staff and technology centers. Our guests discuss the value libraries still bring and why we should support these institutions of our citizenry.

Culture Crash: What’s a comedy award to do when no books are funny?

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is given annually to what a panel of judges deem to be the funniest book of the year. But this year, the judges hit a snag: they didn’t think any of them were funny.

18-23 Segment 1: Farming in Cities

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While farming may seem like a rural occupation, urban gardens are starting to infiltrate major cities around the world. Michael Ableman, author of the book Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier, is the co-founder and director of Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver, British Columbia. And, Deirdre Bradley-Turner is the director of Community Service and Service Learning at Emmanuel College in Boston, which is part of the Mission and Ministry Office at the college. These two guests explain the impact that urban farming can have on a community.

An urban garden, Ableman says, not only provides a city with the chance to grow part of its own produce, but also, it feeds the souls of the people who work the plots. At Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver, these people are usually those dealing with long-term addictions, mental illnesses, or living in poverty. By training and employing them, the urban farms give them a chance to do something meaningful in a community. This has the ability to transforms lives, as they discover the untapped creativity and heart of people who often have society prejudiced against them.

Farming in a city often requires some innovation and accommodation. Ableman explains the smart farming that they have developed, using a system of 8,000 movable growing boxes to produce up to 50 different crops for the city’s restaurants and farmer’s markets.

In Boston, Bradley-Turner explains how three programs at Emmanuel College came together to produce an urban garden, with a focus on educating the community and students about food justice and security. She says that food justice is more than just feeding people who don’t have easy access to food. It’s also about teaching them about nutrition and where their food comes from. The food produced on their farm is distributed to the city’s shelters and to the students who live on the campus.

For more information about these two projects and urban farms, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Michael Ableman, co-founder and director of Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver, British Columbia, and author of the book Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier
  • Deirdre Bradley-Turner, director of Community Service and Service Learning at Emmanuel College, Boston, which is part of the Mission and Ministry Office at the college

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18-23 Segment 2: Weather: Past and Future

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While weather is often a day-to-day occurrence for many of us, the history of the earth’s climate and humanity’s relationship to it actually creates a fascinating story. Andrew Revkin, weather expert and historian, summarizes 100 key moments of this chronology in his book Weather: An Illustrated History From Cloud Atlases to Climate Change.

The book gives short introductions to big scientific concepts, starting with the distinction between weather and climate. Revkin quotes, climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get. Going back all the way to the beginning of the earth’s atmosphere 4.6 billion years ago, Revkin tracks the changes in climate since then and several of the atmosphere’s reboots over the years, covering periods of ice, heat, and everything in between.

He also focuses on the way humanity has affected the climate in recent years. For the first time in history, climate will be what we make of it, and we’re the first species to be aware of our impact. He also explains the history of the first weather forecasts and how the innovation in technology, such as the telegraph, made it possible.

For more information or to get your own copy of Revkin’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Andrew Revkin, weather expert and historian, author of the bookWeather: An Illustrated History From Cloud Atlases to Climate Change

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Culture Crash 18-23: 4 Books to Read This Summer

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Summer is finally here, and if you’re like me, that means it’s time to get to business on that reading list. I’ve always found that my favorite entertainment source in the summer is to go read a book in the great outdoors.

Of course, picking the right book can be a challenge, because the last thing any of us want is to be bored by a book. Here are four books I’ve read recently that you may want to seek out this summer.

First up, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Crouch is most famous for his Wayward Pines series, but don’t sleep on his 2016 scifi thriller Dark Matter. The book tells the story of a man who is abducted and wakes up in another reality. Using some fascinating science fiction, the book is a non-stop page turner perfect for fans of Black Mirror.

Another science fiction read is Elan Mastai’s romp All Our Wrong Todays. The book is similar to Dark Matter in that it deals with alternate realities, but Mastai’s book tells the story of a man from a different world who stumbles into our reality…and finds it to be underwhelming. The book is less a thriller a more of a comedy.

If science fiction isn’t your thing, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips tells a heart-pounding story set in a reality all too real. The book centers on a mother and her young child as their afternoon at the zoo becomes a nightmare after they hear gunshots ring out. The reader is swept along as the two of them try to run, hide, and survive. Set all in one day, Fierce Kingdom’s 290 pages can even be read in one sitting.

And finally, if you are interested in history, you may want to check out The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. The book tells a dramatized version of true story with national significance: the race to illuminate America between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the rouge Nikola Tesla. The book paints a wonderful picture of days since past and may just ignite a passion in you to get to the bottom of who really deserves the credit for the incandescent lightbulb.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips, and The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore are all available now. For links to more information about all three, visit Viewpoints Online dot net… and when you finish them, feel free to let us know your thoughts on Twitter at Viewpoints Radio.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints 18-23

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Farming in Cities

Tending to crops is typically something that brings the rolling fields of rural America to mind. We talk to two experts about the growing trend of urban farming, and how cities have implemented programs that not only help feed their communities, but can also teach discipline and offer employment.

Weather: Past and Future

Most of us have been caught in a bad storm or seen some big hail.  We talk to a weather expert and historian about some of the notable weather of the past and a look into the climate of the future.

Culture Crash: 4 Books to Read This Summer

It’s summer, which is a great time to do some reading. We discuss four books that will keep you turning those pages all summer long.

18-22 Segment 1: Is Cursive Still Worth It?

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Many schools are removing cursive lessons from their classrooms, basing this decision on the prevalence of technology in modern life. This decision may not be best for our children though, and it is already having a major impact. Jan Olsen, occupational therapist and President of Handwriting Without Tears, and Margaret Shepherd, calligrapher and author of Learn World Calligraphy, tell us why cursive is still an important life skill today.

The ability to write and read cursive helps an individual to be prepared for many of the situations children will face later on. When society and teachers began to turn away from cursive, many people started to struggle “socially, educationally, and vocationally,” Olsen says. Although cursive seems complex on the surface, Olsen stresses, it is actually easier to write because of the continuous flow and easier to read, because the words don’t run together.

Handwriting is also a way to express yourself and to make an impression on the people around you. Shepherd encourages people to take control of their writing, especially their signature. Learning to write well gives a sense of self-respect and power over how people see you through your handwriting. Shepherd says that handwriting needs to be exercised like any skill, and she isn’t afraid that the need for this skill is going away anytime soon, as we can never predict where technology will turn to next.

To learn more about the importance of handwriting and our guests, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Jan Olsen, occupational therapist and President of Handwriting Without Tears
  • Margaret Shepherd, calligrapher & artist and author of Learn World Calligraphy

Links for more information:

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