18-34 Segment 1: Orbiting the Moon: The Mission of Apollo 8

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Though Apollo 11 gets all the fame and Apollo 13 was made into a thrilling Ron Howard movie, author and historian Jeffrey Kluger says the Apollo 8 mission was a foundational trip for American space exploration. He takes us through the mission and examines what it meant for NASA moving forward.

Guest:

  • Jeffrey Kluger, author, Apollo 8: The thrilling story of the first mission to the moon

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18-34 Segment 2: Racial Segregation in ‘Sundown Towns’

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We’ve all heard stories of segregated America circa the 1950’s, but historian and author James W. Loewen says not all of those racist institutions have been completely eliminated, even now. Loewen explains ‘sundown towns,’ towns where minorities were not welcomed after sundown, and he says some of them are still unofficially ‘sundown’ due to their lasting reputations.

Guest:

  • James W. Loewen, author, Sundown Towns: A hidden dimension of American racism

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Culture Crash 18-34: The Joys of ‘Junk Food TV’

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

When people talk about television, there’s generally a skew toward prestige TV. We discuss the achievements of Breaking Bad, LOST and Orange is the New Black, we marveled at the talent of Sterling K. Brown and Elisabeth Moss… and deservedly so! Those shows and actors are incredible and they have entertained many of us for hours on end with their high concepts and thoughtfulness. But there’s another brand of TV that’s easy to overlook, what I call junk food TV. In this comparison, those prestige shows are your nice dinners out: they’re prepared with care by professionals. This junk food TV is what you reach for when you just need something easy and fast and delicious.

For me, it’s MTV’s The Challenge. I’ve watched it for years- I know the running resentments and simmering dramas. I enjoy the athletic challenges, the backstabbing of the votes. It’s pure entertainment. For others, this is the role that Riverdale, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or heck, even Family Feud hold.

Lately, my wife has come home and decompressed from hectic days by watching Nailed It on Netflix. Nailed It is a show where home bakers try imitating complicated recipes made by professionals, who make decadent desserts look easy. They typically fail spectacularly, and everyone has fun laughing and commiserating with each other. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s enjoyable.

Not every day can be a day when I feel up to the emotional weight of watching an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale or The Leftovers. Sometimes, I need to relax by flipping on The Challenge and watching 30-somethings try to race across platforms 20 feet over water and then vote their friends into elimination challenges. That’s just the way it is.

Junk food TV rarely wins awards or gets celebrated, but sometimes it’s what allows us to relax on a Tuesday night, and that’s worth appreciating.

I’m Evan Rook. 

18-33 Segment 1: Modern American Immigration

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When people discuss “the immigrant narrative,” you may picture Ellis Island. But what is that process like today? We talk to two writers about the more modern immigrant journey.

Guests:

  • Daniel Connolly, journalist and author, The Book of Isaias: A Child of Immigrants Seeks His Own America
  • Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author, The Golden Son

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18-33 Segment 2: Seeking the Origins of Creativity

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We grow up with visions of creative genius: the divine power to create stories from whole cloth and write symphonic masterpieces. But is that how it really works? We look at the creative process, and why it may not be as romantic as some of us imagine.

Guest:

  • Allen Gannet, CEO of TrackMaven and author, The Creative Curve: How to realistically cultivate creativity

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Culture Crash 18-33: The Academy’s ‘Best Popular Film’ Snafu

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

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced their latest idea for improving the Oscars relevancy and ratings. This month, The Academy sent out a tweet that read in part, quote, “a new category is being designed around achievement in popular film.” This is nothing new- in 2009, after the backlash they suffered from failing to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture- the Academy expanded the category to 10 nominees. This worked for a while- Avatar and Inception were both nominated, but ultimately, things reverted back to the mean and big budget films went back to being excluded.

So now, this. An attempt to create an Oscar for popular films. The reaction was swift- the award would be an insult. An also-ran. Perhaps most baffling is the strange insinuation that a popular film can’t win Best Picture, Titanic was popular, Forrest Gump was popular. Not to mention Lord of the Rings, Ben-Hur, West Side Story, Rocky and so many of the award’s winners over the years.

To ignore that history and imply that a popular film operates on a different scale than true film is a sham designed to draw more eyeballs to the ceremony. The only reason a second award would be necessary is because the Academy itself is out of touch. In 2008, The Dark Knight didn’t need a Best Popular Film category to merit a win. The outrage was because it was dismissed for being popular in spite of its quality- honestly, when’s the last time you marveled at the achievement of Frost/Nixon, The Reader or even the winner from that ceremony, Slumdog Millionaire?

Winning an award made to pander to the masses won’t feel as good as truly being recognized for your achievement. The onus is on the Academy to actually recognize the best achievement in film and not hedge their bets with new awards.

I’m Evan Rook.

18-32 Segment 1: Maximizing Your Charity Donation’s Impact

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Everyone has different causes that are close to their hearts. We talk to a philanthropy specialist about how we can donate to those causes and ensure that our contribution makes the biggest impact possible.

Guest:

  • Carrie Morgridge, Vice President of The Morgridge Family Foundation, author of Every Gift Matters: How your passion can change the world

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