Comments by Allan Coukell

Comment for "Military: Combat Brain Injury" (deleted)

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Review of Military: Combat Brain Injury (deleted)

Brain injury is increasingly common among US soldiers in Iraq, for the reasons mentioned here. This fact has been reported, but I don't recall ever before hearing the voice of an affected solider. This piece is important for bringing us that voice. We hear the soldier, some sounds from his physical therapy session, and an expert, a neuropsychologist. The material is handled sensitivly and without external narration. The soldier's personal soundtrack also makes an effective soundtrack for the piece. It might need to be shorter to reach a wider audience, but people should hear it.

That said, I want to mention two things:

First, from the narrative standpoint, we need a better sense of who this man was before his accident, and what has been lost. Maybe he can tell us that, or maybe we need to hear from his family or friends. But without knowing where he started, we can't really understand - or feel - where he is now. Also, it would be a minor miracle if a young man in the prime of his life wasn't, at times, absolutely filled with rage over his fate. We need to hear about that.

Secondly, and more importantly, the piece seems to suggest that traumatic brain injury is something that heals in about 18 months. It is true that recovery is slow, when it happens. But many patients with TBI have very limited recovery. Some of these soldiers will end up as vegetables. Some will be bed-ridden. Some will lose their memories or their ability to speak. Many of those with frontal lobe damage will undergo profound personality changes. Talking about "healing" in 18 months doesn't begin to convey the devastation.

Comment for "Polly's Boa"

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New in Frozen Snakes

This is the story of an old woman - old at the story's telling, anyway - who finds a frozen boa constrictor in Boston. We hear only her voice telling of the find and the ensuing (very minor) events. There is also some piano music, which, though it occasionally verges on distracting, mostly sets just the right tone for this gently absurd little tale.

The editor in me wants it slightly shorter, the music pulled back a notch. The listener in me likes it just fine as is.

This is a story that tells us nothing about progess in Iraq, the ideology of the next pope, nor even about a fascinating new trend in reptilian-human relations. And bully for that.

It reminds me of the sonic IDs used to great effect on Jay Allison's Cape and Islands stations. In a better public radio universe, I could be surprised by this at any time of the day. From such weft, do we weave the fabric of our community.