Posts filed under 'tv episodes'

Fellow Travelers

Tonight's show is a rerun of an episode from our second season in which I interviewed two intrepid travelers: history hunk Josh Bernstein and you-go-(alone-)girl jet-setter Teresa Rodriguez Williamson. Strangely, neither guest seemed intimidated by my Old Hollywood-type glamour. ...

You can read my original blog item here.

1 comment August 27th, 2007

More Muchnick!

Tonight's program is a rerun of an episode I really enjoyed -- I got to interview author and pro-wrestling expert Irvin Muchnik, and I got to try my hand (and butt, and ...) at wrestling myself. You can read my original blog item here.

August 20th, 2007

A Trillin Encounter

The first time I met Calvin Trillin, my guest on tonight's episode (at 7:30), we were both guests on Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live radio program. My wife and son -- who was then but a toddler -- were with me backstage. With his marvelous deadpan, Trillin pointed at my boy and said to my wife and me, "I'll pay you fifty bucks for that kid, cash on the barrel." We politely declined, but from that moment on I knew that this terrific writer was also a man of great taste.

It was thrill to have Trillin on my show this past season. (Tonight's broadcast is a rerun -- you can read my original blog item here.) In the intervening years he had lost his beloved wife Alice, whose somewhat fictionalized character graced many of his best writings. He was on tour promoting About Alice, his lovely memoir of their long relationship. Understandably, his mood was muted, but during our conversation there were many flashes of the mordant Trillin wit.

It was an honor to get to spend some time with him. And -- perhaps because he now has grandchildren to devote himself to -- he didn't even make a follow-up offer for my son. I wouldn't have bitten, anyhow.

1 comment July 30th, 2007

Rhymes with “Academy” …

... which makes sense, as the family name "Tademy" has a deep history in learning. I found out about the Tademys' hard-won education through Lalita Tademy's powerful second historical novel, Red River. She was my guest in an episode that I heard lots of feedback about -- including from the crossing guard at my son's school, whose own family had many similar experiences. (I loaned her my copy.)

You can see my original blog item here.

11 comments July 23rd, 2007

Another Slice of Onion

Tonight's show (at 7:30) is a rerun of an episode that many viewers have told me they enjoyed when it first ran. Featuring interviews with former Onion editor Scott Dikkers and his pal Peter Hilleren -- coauthors of the gleefully irrevernt Destined for Destiny: The Unauthorized Autobiography of George W. Bush -- this program also included my near-fatal attempt to juggle onions, as well as many moments when I was in danger of laughing so hard that stuff might spurt out my nose. Fortunately, no one died and nasal expectorations remained minimal -- which are, as you probably know, the the television industry's two most common benchmarks for a successful broadcast.

Apropos of nothing, but just because I feel like mentioning it, yesterday we went on a family outing to Stinson Beach. I have a difficult time going to places -- even beautiful places, like Stinson -- where I am not sure that there will be a clean and comfortable bathroom available for my use. This applies to camping as well -- also, many great cities of the world. I know I need to get over this phobia if I ever am to become a world-class traveler -- or even just a traveler. Another option is for me to figure out -- how to put this delicately? -- a way to be more, um, efficient in my bathroom visits. Something changed in me in my mid-20s -- something internal, and mysterious -- which led to me doing much more reading than would otherwise have been possible in a day. I've tried everything: Metamucil, dried fruits, trampolining -- with little avail. So the idea of spending some quality time in a stall at the beach while 32 angry surfers chant for me to come out ... well, the thought fills me with a certain amount of anxiety. Which doesn't help. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

And not apropos of that, I'm also recalling that my father liked to take his time in the can -- especially on Sundays, which called for a careful reading of almost the entire Sunday edition of the New York Times. Though in his case I believe the extended bathroom time was a matter of choice rather than necessity. He liked it in there! Let me also mention that my dad's favorite sandwich was thickly sliced raw onion on white bread, with lots of butter slathered on. My stepmother, Sue, complained mightily, but sometimes a man just has needs, and that's that.

I hope this clears up all your unspoken questions.

4 comments July 16th, 2007

Non-Driving, Defensively

So okay, no, as a matter of fact, I have not yet gotten my driver's license. I know that the "Wandering Josh" segment on tonight's episode (at 7:30) -- a lovingly restored repeat from early in our second season -- would seem to suggest that last summer I was just on the verge of getting a license. But the sad fact is that, despite the soothing instructions I received from Judy Lundblad of Fearless Driver, I neglected to schedule the follow-up lessons that would have prepared me to take the road test.

Planned to, I swear! But here's what happened. I was just about to get on the phone to Judy to schedule those remaining lessons when I happened to be taping a WJ segment with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates for our Earth Day show. Mayor Bates was about to drive me somewhere in a city-owned hybrid vehicle, and I suggested -- on camera (though we didn't use this part in the show) -- that, since I had a learner's permit, he might let me do the driving. Ever the conscientious public servant, he demanded that I show him my permit -- which I promptly removed from my wallet. The mayor examined the battered document and pointed out that it had just expired -- like, the week before!

I played my reaction for laughs, but I was genuinely appalled, as I realized that I would now have to take the written test again. In other words, back to square one. On foot.

Anyhow, now you have some of the fallout from this program, in which I got to chat with star car designer Vicki Vlachakis and young auto-racing phenom Dane Cameron. But unlike my guests, you will know that -- car-wise, at least -- I am a fraud (well, perhaps they suspected as much ...)!

2 comments July 9th, 2007

Nash Bridges Gulf to History

If you dug tonight's show -- a conversation with UCLA historian Gary Nash -- then I highly recommend that you run out and buy or borrow his book The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America. Reading it has profoundly affected my understanding of American history -- and, for that matter, the American present.

If you have read it -- or any other books by the prolific Prof. Nash -- I'd love to hear your own impressions.

2 comments July 2nd, 2007

Annie 1, Annie 2, Annie 3 …

By my count (and I did horribly at math in college, so take this with a grain of salt) tonight's show (at 7:30) -- featuring interviews with photographer Annie Leibovitz and actress Helen Mirren -- is being broadcast for third time. Which is cool, as this is probably the episode that I get the most positive feedback about from people on the street. Mostly, I think, that's because folks (rightly) love the work of these two amazing artists. But I also feel like I connected a bit with each of them (a particular challenge in Dame Helen's case, as we only had about five minutes to talk). I also have especially fond memories of shooting the "Wandering Josh" segment, as it was produced by my beloved series producer Lori Halloran, who recently left our show to spend more quality time with her baby daughter.

Maybe one day I'll be able to talk about the rollicking conversation I had with Annie before we started taping. But, um, not yet. (It was intense, though.)

June 25th, 2007

Why Michael Can’t Reed

My guest on tonight's show -- a repeat of the first episode of our second season -- was Michael Tilson Thomas, leader of the San Francisco Symphony and (more importantly) a recovering oboist.

MTT -- as he suggested I call him (I didn't ask him to call me JK -- didn't want to come off as being imitative) -- started out on that noblest (or at least quackiest) of all double-reed instruments. But faced with the daunting challenges of the "ill wind that no one blows good" (cf. Danny Kaye), he made the wise choice to instead slack off and become a world-class conductor, composer, and TV-series host. The series -- Keeping Score: Revolutions in Music, right here on our very own public television -- is a marvel: concise, moving, accessible.

As I move forward with my own (decidedly amateurish) efforts at oboe-playing, I can take comfort at this tenuous link with a great musician -- though I admit, as connections go, it's a slender reed to cling to. ...

June 18th, 2007


Tonight's show (at 7:30) is a lovingly restored rebroadcast of an episode that ran earlier this season -- one that focused on two-wheeled conveyances. So in order to keep the conversation balanced, we had to keep moving forward. (Sorry -- I'm a bit under the weather, and my writing is possibly even loopier than usual.)

Two-Wheeler Type 1: Choppers -- those beautiful, raunchily loud, handmade motorcycles. Expert: Tom Zimberoff, chopper-lover, photographer extraordinaire, and author of the dazzling photo book Art of the Chopper II.

Two-Wheeler Type 2: Mountain bikes -- that relatively new species of bicycle that allows people very much not like me to go at high speeds up and down really big hills. (Okay, I do have a mountain bike -- and I love it -- but I tend to stay on the flatlands.) Experts: biking pioneers Joe Breeze and Jacquie Phelan. Joe made one of the first mountain bikes and currently makes commuter-friendly "Breezer Bikes." As for Jacquie, she was one of the early woman mountain-biking champions and now -- among other endeavors -- runs WOMBATS: the Women's Mountain Bike & Tea Society.

Plus, there's a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I attended a chopper show at the Cow Palace and earned my leathers -- well, tried to.

2 comments May 28th, 2007

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