Comments by Hans Anderson

Comment for "Nightfall in Chester County"

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Review of Nightfall in Chester County

Wow, what an amazing work! This piece covers so many different facets, from mushroom farming, to the Underground Railroad of Pennsylvania in the mid-1800's. Some very interesting perspectives about slavery, abolition, and slave treatment, adapting to cultural environments. And it's all tied to modern times and those who labor under difficult conditions today, under rules possibly described as whatever "Jim Crow" might translate into in Spanish. They weren't allowed in some otherwise public areas. It's difficult to totally discount the farmer owner's side, that's one of the great things about this piece. It's fair to both sides.

This is _SO_ PR. Polished, professional, engaging, interesting. This could play on any station.

Comment for "Of A Piece"

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Review of Of A Piece

I like to hear people talking so effortlessly about "my Dad." So much of what I hear about Dad's is that they are deadbeats, aren't pulling their weight, or are in some way responsible for the demise of the family. Well, a lot of times they (we?) are. But, it's good to hear these stories about Dads where he's a loved man, a good guy.

I heard this piece originally on Transom, and it's a good one, worthy of any time slot it can be given. Michelle covers a lot of how the story came about on ( I like the fact that her narration is unscripted. I'm not sure I can easily identify what it does exactly, maybe it gives it a continuous spontaneity, instead of only being spontaneous during the interview points. Some of the tape is noisy, but it's put together well and gives a different perspective on Father's Day.

There are some honest moments in this piece. This isn't about puzzles, really, it's about a relationship that uses puzzles as the MacGuffin.

Comment for "Think About Your Movies"

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Review of Think About Your Movies

In this commentary/essay against bad movies, the essayist expands his thoughts to culture in general and television in particular, why art doesn't satisfy most people, and why South Park is more artsy than just about any other television show. The narrator makes the point that if you don't have to think about it at all, it's not art. And, he says, the worst films and television shows are biggest hits.

This goes back to what my R/TV professor told me in one mass media class: popular movies and shows are popular because they appeal to the most people. This is obvious. But the reason they appeal to the most people is that they are middle-of-the-road. It is just like that vanilla party guest who won't be trapped in a stand, neither pro or anti, nor, as it turns out, is he interesting. To be interesting, you need to actually say something, not just exist for a laugh track or to be the show most people watch.

The personal perspective is from a video store clerk, those that I imagine have seen so many movies -- it's almost a job requirement after all -- that they are sick of vanilla and probably pity the rest of us that aren't yet.

This piece is well-thought-out and makes good points without being too stuck up about art. I think most PR listeners can identify and will agree with this essay.

Comment for "1000 Postcards"

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Review of 1000 Postcards

I heard this on last year. Very well done. I love the way it starts... "That's my Dad." This is a sweet piece and many fathers might start looking around for the person cutting onions while hearing this one. In radio, the short and sweet is often the best, and the sound of Dad calling out the stops, of him reading the post cards, and of Renee's short narration in between, fits so nicely into a salute to the father's salute to his daughter.

This one is perfect for Father's Day.

Comment for "Naked Barbies and Deflated Basketballs: A look inside the world of collectors"

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Review of Naked Barbies and Deflated Basketballs: A look inside the world of collectors

Nothing big to add from the other reviewers, but I love the way the peace flows and the little stories that come out of what could easily be mundane. Collectors would like this piece more than me, and I liked it quite a bit.

Comment for "RN Documentary: Soldiering On"

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Review of RN Documentary: Soldiering On

Billed simply as a look at a soldier's experience in battle, but it goes much further. The music is depressing, but the content is not always, even though we are talking serious and emotional issues.

This piece alternates between World War II veterans Robert Taylor and John Jones, and historian Steven Bromwell. The historian is there for perspective, but not simply World War II (he comments on the uniqueness of the way Arnhem -- part of the unsuccessful Operation Market-Garden -- fell into small unit battles, battles within battles), he puts us into the minds of a soldier through Waterloo, Wellington and Napoleon. Not just Wellington, but of the men on the field, the men who couldn't see beyond the effective firing distance of their muskets.

I can't underscore how effective this is. They are not building parallels between battles, but of emotions of battles, of the state of mind of the soldier, of having five bullet holes in your parachute canopy, but none in you. Of seeing rows of beautiful French homes dropped to piles of rubble and licked with flames.

This all alternates with a dry historian talking about what motivates a soldier... patriotism can only take you so far. Boom, back to World War II and one of the veterans. Boom, back to Bromwell.

Probably this isn't a new technique, and while I'm not as well-listened as I'd like, I don't think I've heard this type of thing done this well before.

I had to listen hard, and to the beginning twice, because I didn't pick up the accents that well, and the dynamics are all over the place. This could be a problem on the one-shot-is-all-you-got radio, but it is so intimate that you can hear the kinks in the voice, the sighs "I'm not going to make it." "Who is gonna next? Am I gonna get it, or is he gonna get it?" No emotion is edited out. The sound effects of battle, used sparingly, are used effectively, and mostly (maybe always) when the historian is speaking, or in bridges between the vets and the historian.

The sfx do not impede the piece, just adding the sounds to help the brain along, nudging it toward the realizations that the voices were pointing to.

Piece goes well beyond war, to questioning why, and what did it accomplish, why should I kill a fellow man?

The war went on. The buildup in Europe took longer than the fighting, but the fighting took long enough, and in brutal conditions, cold, hunger, pain, doubt, fear. These two veterans, Taylor and Jones, bring us close into the fold. I'm not going to pretend I know the fear of battle, but I know what veterans feel.

There is nothing to date this to one year... mark a spot for timely pieces for the final Monday in May and look for this piece again.

Comment for "Three Days Before Christmas in the Zombie Hut"

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Review of Three Days Before Christmas in the Zombie Hut

Another tone: intimate, especially that. How many people are you going to get to tell you about their worst Christmas gift or sing for you if you bring in a camera? But, they do for radio. This piece definitely has a place on PR. I can hear it on Day to Day or ME somewhere around mid-December. I hope it gets tons of play, and that the idea is frequently repeated with different topics. As a series, this could be a lot of fun, and could be done in a mall, a park, on the bus, an airplane... If you are a PD, I recommend you put a note in your day planner for about Dec. 15th to come find this piece again.

Comment for "Knitting with Dog Hair/ Dog Day Afternoons"

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Review of Knitting with Dog Hair/ Dog Day Afternoons

The environmental impact of doghair on landfills!

Oh man, this just puts other mockumentaries, mine to be precise, to complete shame. Timely, for April Fools. I love the explanation I found on (when I realized this was a mockumentary, I went fishing for information).

I love this kind of stuff, but this is very well done. If the dog show is in town, or it's April 1st, this is your show. Also an entire lesson plan in quality radio production... a great mix of sound, and some likely invented words. Awesome.

The second part was also well done, but I think these could be separated so that PD's could choose either or both. They are about dogs, but differ enough that one may be more useful where the other isn't.

Comment for "After Graduation: Meeting Special Needs"

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Review of After Graduation: Meeting Special Needs

This is news-magaziny, but too long for that format. Obviously it is better suited for a full half-hour, but perhaps slippets could be pulled from the piece to include among other material in shorter shows.

This piece was bright and informative, offering a close look at what can be an difficult task for many people to talk about. This piece works because of the built-in intimacy of audio/radio. PD's should look at this piece especially if there is any educational debate going on in the community.

Comment for "Trivial Pursuit"

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Review of Trivial Pursuit

A spirited glimpse at Trivial Pursuit, but not really about TP at all.

An interesting short piece that could spice up an hour, but it might take some explaining. Or, you could throw it in there during a fundraiser and let people try to figure out why it's playing. I think pieces like this, instead of announcers talking endlessly during a fundraiser, trying to raise money might make a stronger impression and lead people to go to their phone to give not from exasperation at having their favorite shows withheld or interrupted, but from being inspired by something unusual or offbeat.

Comment for "Thurgood Marshall Before the Court" (deleted)

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Review of Thurgood Marshall Before the Court (deleted)

This should be played in every history class in every middle school and high school in America. Brown vs. Topeka and Marshall are important events and public figures. Children nowadays may hear about the "Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund" or know that he was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but they (as I didn't) know much more about him. Documentaries like this take my breath away, and they belong wherever you can fit them, no matter if it's the 50th anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education or Christmas Day. The power of this piece could be increased by springing it on your listeners at 3am.

Comment for "The Fair"

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Review of The Fair

The mix of this is a lot different than most pieces, but even with my hard-of-hearing ears, I was able to pick out the main voice. I think it is this mix that makes this piece work very well. I drifted between hearing the V/O and the backgrounds, and the V/O became almost part of the background, as I got into the fair, substituting the essayist's fair for the ones I remember as a child. Fairs populate my memory with many pleasant thoughts, from my friends vomiting after too much cotton candy and too many twirls on the Round-Up, or my older cousin telling me how she'll probably be an alcoholic when gets older because she snuck a beer from the Beer Garden and really liked it. "The Fair" is perfect for the fair season, coming up in a couple of months. There are no shows that shouldn't run it, provided they have the time.

Comment for "Joshua Bell, violinist--biographical (2 tracks)"

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Review of Joshua Bell, violinist--biographical (2 tracks)

Informational interview, interesting questions revealing interesting answers. For instance, Joshua is very competitive, but the competitiveness doesn't translate to music.

Also many typical questions about music tastes, early influences, etc. I honestly don't know much about classical music, so I am not the most erudite reviewer.

The strange thing about this interview is the interviewer sound like he's on the phone, while the interviewee, Josh, sounds like he's in-studio. The focus of the interview, Josh, is completely in focus and sounds good. Would be good on any classical music show.

Comment for "The Rocks at Rock Bottom"

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Review of The Rocks at Rock Bottom

Definitely TAL-ish -- I heard it on TAL a couple of weeks ago. So, obviously a piece with those credentials is pretty good. I will probably always remember this piece, too, because of what drove the guy from where he started skipping rocks, why he started, and specifically because he became so good at it. I thought to try to contact him because I have a secret rock-skipping place, now about 1500 miles away, with loads of flat, circular, smooth rocks and best of all, an up-river angle that serves as a cheat. You can skip rocks almost in place.

But I digress. I think PD's are safe with anything Hillary Frank feels comfortable putting out there, and especially if it's aired nationally on TAL. So you could go in blind here and be okay, but don't, it's an excellent piece that is fun to listen to.

Comment for "David Byrne Does PowerPoint"

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Review of David Byrne Does PowerPoint

A sound rich piece about a strange interesting technological topic. This piece is also surprisingly visual and informational. This piece might fit best on a techy show, but could be just about anywhere. It is very offhand and liberated, willfully crossing some lines that you won't hear crossed on public radio (which, to this reviewer, is a major feature).

Comment for "The Zildjian Cymbal Tester"

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Review of The Zildjian Cymbal Tester

I love pieces like this. Cymbal Tester?!? It's like hearing an interview from someone who works at a shoelace factory in Ohio. I mean, they have to have something interesting to say, right?

And, there are a lot more to cymbals than you'd think. It was hard to hear the guy sometimes, for the variety of cymbals. I look forward to hearing it on D2D.

Comment for "Mark Twain's The War Prayer"

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Review of Mark Twain's The War Prayer

I put inspiring, but for not-the-usual-reasons. I'm personally inspired by the production of it. And, though I'm not 100% anti-war, I do have some doubts, and bringing this up now, 100 years later, seems appropriate.

I thought the voice acting was excellent. The sound effects sometimes grabbed me the wrong way. The firecrackers didn't sound like firecrackers, but I know they really were. They are tough to portray. There were a few others, too, that maybe detracted more than enhanced. But, the "lunatic" at the end was captivating, and the whole piece together worked very well. It's timely, too, folks, and could generate pro and con listener reaction.

Comment for "The Penguin Goes A Courtin'"

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Review of The Penguin Goes A Courtin'

This is listed as a fundraising piece, which it would be perfect for. But it should be played just any ol' time. I'd love to hear it played between some classical music piece, with no introduction, no extroduction, just stuff it in their and listen.

I think Jonathan's work is excellent in general. I've heard it on TAL several times, and his pacing and writing reminds me of David Sedaris.

Comment for "Amy's Graduation"

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Review of Amy's Graduation

Well produced, a nice story. Coming from Youth Radio, it's obviously aimed at people about half my age, and I think it will mean more to people in that position. I would have liked to hear what other people think Amy and her efforts (she talks about how she thinks people might be inspired by her and her diploma). It would also be fun to learn how she's going about becoming a dolphin trainer, or how she got to want to be a dolphin trainer, or if that's just something she wanted as a kid, but doesn't really want to be now. I would have liked to hear more information, less of an outline and more details about some aspect of the story.

For a PD aiming for teens or young adults, this piece would fit perfectly.

Comment for "Office Artist"

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Review of Office Artist

I like pieces like this in small doses. It breaks up the "normal" voices heard on PR. A station that spices up their day with pieces like this here and there will be remembered for it.

I had to listen to this twice because the first time I had people interrupting me. This is a piece you need to pay attention to, but that's okay because it does grab your attention. It's played as a conversation that you came into late. I don't think pieces like this would work if strung endlessly together. But, as a break from the day, this piece, or pieces like this are the frosting, the dessert, that people remember. I'd love it if my local station would play this right after ME or between classical music pieces. I think people would sit up and listen.

Comment for "The Voices Of Civil Rights Project" (deleted)

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Review of The Voices Of Civil Rights Project (deleted)

This is a wonderful piece, maybe one of the best I've heard on PRX. The stories are moving and well-read, Wade and Rick are well-spoken interviewees and most of all the whole thing is so inspirational. These stories need to be heard by everyone, no matter the skin color, no matter the background. This isn't just interesting, or compelling, but necessary and important. The stories in this piece, and their sibling stories, will be an important part of our recorded history.

Comment for "Jimmy & Jewel: A Love (?) Story [long version]"

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Review of Jimmy & Jewel: A Love (?) Story [long version]

Very personal and surprisingly interesting. Sometimes it's hard to do a story on your family or people close to you, but when it comes out this good, it's all worth it. I could hear this piece on This American Life or maybe a number of smaller shows that deal with medium-length stories like this.

Comment for "Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine"

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Review of Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine

!! WOW, I love this piece. This, to me, is what PR should be playing between all of the polished news and people talking. Not that this isn't polished, but it is very different, at least this episode.

I would like to see a regular series on Found Magazine, new stuff that's found, mixing with different people, and Davy's awesome laugh. Found items can be more than just written notes when colored by Davy's explanations of their origins.

Comment for "Hypnosis in Surgery"

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Review of Hypnosis in Surgery

Interesting and informative medical piece. Doctors are performing research to determine if hypnosis will help during surgery. There are good sounds to put you in the OR, and many interviews with experts. It's also voiced professionally and with authority. This is a polished, professional piece that should be at home on any medical show, local or national.

This piece brings up many interesting medical issues. Apparently hypnosis can be used to combat stress, which helps stabilize the patient. In some procedures, hypnosis or alternative focus can replace medication.

Comment for "Garza Dropout Prevention"

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Review of Garza Dropout Prevention

Interesting piece about the state I currently live in... and have five (soon six) children in the school system. This piece is fairly straightforward, with interviews and nat sound. Good sound quality. This piece could fit on any education program, or anything covering alternative education program, and especially for Texas stations.

Comment for "I Can't Get It Out of My Head"

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Review of I Can't Get It Out of My Head

I really like these pieces, they are light, informational and easy to listen to. They capture your attention quickly and keep it for their longer-than-they-seem duration. These are basically talking-head pieces, but much more fun than that, and this particular piece had a lot of sound... the jingles now stuck in my head.

This piece could be played on any news magazine show, any time you are looking for a light, information piece your listeners will remember.

Comment for "Naked People"

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Review of Naked People

This piece is witty and fun, but also informational and light-hearted. It's about art, but not a specific exhibit or gallery, so it could fit in more general terms, under no specific date or timeliness.

I liked the style of this piece almost as much as the substance. I could hear this on Day to Day especially.

Comment for "Sports Players Who Served"

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Review of Sports Players Who Served

Very timely, with the link to Arizona Cardinal pro football player who died recently in Afghanistan.

This is a fairly straightforward phone interview, but with some interesting facts for the sports fan. They link baseball, currently in it's first month of the season, and football... just had a draft and of course the Pat Tillman story. I can picture this playing just about anywhere any time this week.

Comment for "Pre Adopt Mom"

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Review of Pre Adopt Mom

This is a wonderfully touching piece. My wife and I are foster parents and plan to adopt soon, and we can relate well to this woman's experience. The part that hit me particularly hard was the part where if a child is placed for adoption and then the parent changes her mind, they have to give up the child. It was described as being like a death, and it is. It is something that is very difficult but is done every day in this country. Foster children are put through so much and their lives are so confusing, that I'm thankful that Pre Adopt Mom is doing what she is doing. Those little baby's should know nothing less than total love from day 1.

This piece has good natural sound and is paced well. It would have been good to hear from her bio-children (depending on their ages) and her husband, but it didn't necessarily detract from the piece and could have made it too long.

Comment for "My Father's Songs"

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Review of My Father's Songs

At first I was a little lost, it seemed to be rambling, but then it all came together about 60% through and I was inspired by the link.