Comments by Emon Hassan

Comment for "From Sagebrush to Steppe"

Review of From Sagebrush to Steppe

A musical journey that takes the most-West to the most-East. Not since Paul Pena's journey to Central Asia (Genghis Blues) has a documentary captured the universality of music so vividly. A group of American cowboys travel to Mongolia and find themselves speechless by performing artists who demonstrate versatility in both Eastern and Western music. Music cannot be separated from the lifestyle of cowboys in Mongolia and the spirituality is shared in different aspects of it. The piece ends with a tune, sung both in English and Mongolian, where the message is quite clear; you can't measure friendship in miles or meters. A must listen!

Comment for "Cricket, Anyone?"

Review of Cricket, Anyone?

Having played cricket myself as a young boy, I was attracted to the title of this piece. Now it won't teach you a lot about the game, but will give you a good idea about the similarities it has with baseball. The culture of cricket games is described well by Mr. Meister, just enough to get you interested in looking up a game or two on television, maybe. The game has several other strict rules, not mentioned here, that add to the long hours it takes a match game to unfold. The piece, nevertheless, is a fine introduction for those yet unfamiliar with the game.

Comment for "I Heard it on the X !"

Review of I Heard it on the X !

Texas music writer Joe Nick Patoski remembers hearing a ZZ Top song, some thirty years ago, titled 'I Heard It On The X'. Before that his impression of tha band had been, "Boogie music with funny cowboy hats." That all changed the instant Patoski heard what Billy Gibbons's song was about. Gibbons remembers listening to border radio as a child, switching dials late nights, trying to emulate sounds he heard on his guitar; the strange music thrilled him. Stations like XERA, XERF, and especially XERB from Tijuana/Rosarito area of Baja California, Mexico played music by Jimmy Reed, B B King and Muddy Warers, something local and Top 40 stations didn't. [ Border-blaster stations are licensed commercial radio stations that transmitted at very high power to USA from various points along the Mexican border. Not pirate radio, since they were licensed by the Govt. where they were located.]
Patoski felt Gibbons captured the feeling of listening to border-blaster radio quite well in the song and his opinion is shared by other writers and music producers. He also remembers listening to Wolfman Jack, who has been with XERF before moving to XERB. The song itself is a love letter to border-blaster stations and the piece explains why.

Comment for "Spores from Space"

Review of Spores from Space

A food-for-thought piece that poses the question, "Could our ancestors be microbes from space?" Couple of arguments follow based on findings from Scientific researches. Don't expect a Cliffs Note answer to the question from the piece, but expect to look at bacteria anew.

Comment for "Music & Animals" (deleted)

Review of Music & Animals (deleted)

Chances are, you have skipped right by this title thinking, "I know birds sing. So what's new?" And therein lies the tragedy, because you'll probably never find out how music plays an integral part in their lifestyle, culture, and geography much as it does in ours.

So you thought birds of the same feather all sing the same tune. So you thought 'improvisation' and 'bird songs' don't belong in the same sentence. That's okay, I forgave myself too for having that impression.

Thankfully, there are people like Martha Foley and Prof. Curt Stager who, while casually chatting with each other, teach us a thing or two about nature without making it...well 'lesson-y'. The series is perfect for that time of the morning when you've just put on a pot of coffee and, instead of listening to it purring away, learn a new thing about nature.
Now, whether you actually learn anything new or not, the sounds of all the pieces alone will make a good morning feel great. Just you try it yourself.

Comment for "Musical Tribute to Ray Barretto"

Review of Musical Tribute to Ray Barretto

Think of Ray Barretto as the fifth Beatle of Latin jazz and Salsa. You may not know his name, but you've likely heard his influence in both musical styles because his contribution goes beyond strengthening just the rhythm section. In this interview, Barretto talks about the Conga's role in music, his struggle to get the instrument recognized as an original voice, and not as a decoration piece, and his lifelong search for peace in the world.

The piece is not long enough to fully appreciate his body of work, but just enough to get a glimpse of the man behind the artist.

Comment for "The Art of Spitting: a radio portrait of Slick Vic Low"

Review of The Art of Spitting: a radio portrait of Slick Vic Low

Piece does a great job of portraying Slick Vic Low by letting the artist present himself to us in a way he knows best; his music. He talks about writers block, which he doesn't have, jazz, which he infuses skillfully to outfit his words, and poetry by way of being an MC. The sound of his music is relaxing and the presentation here, with in-between thoughts by the artist himself, makes listening to the piece a cool experience.

Slick's fine taste in words and music and the way he cooks them should be served as a smooth dish to a broader audience. And I hear Program Directors can make that happen.

Comment for "My Experiences With The "N" Word"

Review of Experiences With The "N" Word

Author reflects on the double standard that has existed during his lifetime, especially growing up, in reference to the loaded 'N' word. The piece is also a plea, without being preachy, to put an end to the same word that still exists and divides people.

Find out why Richard Pryor stopped using the word after his visit to Africa.

Comment for "Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar"

Review of Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar

For jazz guitar players or fans of jazzguitar, this program is like an orgy. And to top it off, the great Les Paul narrates it. Can't think of a better person to host this program. I didn't think an hour was sufficient to whet my appetite, but that makes for great programming, doesn't it?
The piece makes great use of audio clips from great players such as Christian, Reinhardt, Raney, Benson, McLaughlin and host of other legends. It helps listeners understand the evolution of the instrument. Deep down, I prayed there was a 3 hour version of the program.

Comment for "Music Box Man"

Review of Music Box Man

A nostalgic version of Gershiwn's 'Summertime' begins this piece. I am only 29, so nostalgia for me means remembering the old movies and programs I grew up watching on television, or the Old Time Radio plays I grew up listening to. They were often accompanied by an organ much like the one Mark plays, taking me to a world of black and white reality. The music cues signalled suspension of disbilief, and the black and white allowed me to put my own colors.
Not unlike this fine piece, where it gave me enough details to 'see' Mark's recreation of the Music Box in his garage.

Comment for "SHAM and the Resilient Writer" (deleted)

Review of SHAM and the Resilient Writer (deleted)

A great hour of programming! Topics are well covered and the interviews are very thoroughly conducted. I especially liked the SHAM segment from this piece. I've always disliked Dr. Phil types and their programs and books, and this segment finally informs me why.

Comment for "Talking 2 Sophia: A Child Speaks about 911"

Review of Talking 2 Sophia

Two year old Sophia's few innocent words and behavior capture the most immediate, basic and diverse human reactions to that haunting event. Extraordinary!

Comment for "Rising Price of Textbooks"

Review of Rising Price of Textbooks

A brief, yet important, overview of reasons why text book prices have been increasing rapidly in the past two decades. Worth listening to by all back-to-schoolers...and their forced back-to-work-from-retirement parents.
How do you save money on text books? There ought to be a separate, half-hour piece devoted to that. One possible solution...eBook.

Comment for "8 Minute Soulmate"

Review of 8 Minute Soulmate

This piece is essentially about aging, loneliness and longing for a family life by a man in his 40s. In a world where choices and chances are expected in plentiful, an 8 minute dating service provides hope for the man. This piece follows Rich to his third such event. Will he find his soulmate this time?

Comment for "Literary Friendships #2: Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman" (deleted)

Review of Literary Friendships #2: Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman (deleted)

A candid conversation with two authors who are also life partners. We get to know a pair of lives who share not only a wonderful family, but a room where each creates her, and his, own universe with words. They open themselves to us and what we learn is not how good they are in what they do, but how open they are with each other, about things good or bad. When a couple sounds this good together, something is in tune.

Comment for "Um"

Review of Um

Not a new concept, but I was kind of hypnotized by it. I guess that's because it didn't go over the top with the clips and samples. Great for a quick break, or a 'breather' between the animated music pieces on PBS.

Comment for "Religious Bridges"

Review of Religious Bridges

This informative piece discusses the Bridges program, used by Evangelical Churches to convert Mormons by using methods that ultimately has the philosophy, 'Mormoms convert themselves'. The approach has the qualities of a Powerpoint presentation for prospective clients in business. Share information, share philosophy, and tell them why converting would bring a lot more to their lives, while never undermining their present organization. Piece successfully gives us a glimpse of the evolving techiniques of preaching.

Comment for "Web animation: a new genre of family entertainment"

Review of A new genre of family entertainment

Piece about a different brand of web animators who reach a wide range of ages. There are sound clips from a number of the animation pieces, and they are even funny and cute to listen to. In short, the piece just points out a trend a lot of us may be missing.

Comment for "Blind Willy Johnson - Medium Length" (deleted)

Review of Blind Willy Johnson - Medium Length (deleted)

Also known as the Texas street corner evangelist, Blind Willy Johnson's slide guitar playing influences guitar players to this day. Rock fans probably know, among his many haunting melodies, the song 'Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine', covered by Led Zeppelin. Commonly perceived as the devil's music, blues music became Johnson's medium to preach the bible's words. The result, a sound that instantly grabs your attention and makes you stop and listen. Whether a blues player or a minister, the ability to do that goes beyond knowing what your talents are.

Comment for "Reflections on Nagasaki by a Nez Perce Elder"

Review of Reflections on Nagasaki by a Nez Perce Elder

It is one thing to read accounts of the past, but to actually hear someone's voice while he remembers vivid details about Nagasaki is another. This piece is a great example of talking history. It is about a first person experience of the sight, sound and smell of a city as it lay dying.

Comment for "RN Documentary: Humour & Healing"

Review of RN Documentary: Humour & Healing

This piece searches for evidence of laughter as having healing power. It's the search itself that proves more meaningful than the answer. The stories shared by the Clown Doctors are inspiring and heartwarming. It seems that laughter is denied to people who need them the most. The story about an Italian man, bedridden with oxygen mask on, and the story about the patient and his stack of greeting cards are especially inspiring. So is the story about the little girl who was able to act her age just before she died, thanks to the Clown Doctors. It's not always about the laughs, though. To be able to cry together is important. We agree that all humor has some pain attached to it. So, it is natural to have both co-exist. The Clown Doctors realize that very important fact and they share that with everyone they come in contact with. Maybe we will never find a medical explanation of laughter as best medicine. It is, after all, a more spiritual treatment than traditional. We tend to forget that healing of the spirit is what makes a failing body rest in peace.

Comment for "Laughing without an Accent"

Review of Laughing without an Accent

An old piece, but what a joy listening to a first-time author talk about her life and her journey to getting published. The piece is tight and the trip to New York City to publicize the book release was a hoot. Upbeat is not a strong enough word to describe Firoozeh Dumas. Her audio diary is inspiring without having a hint of pretention, a rarity among published writers if you know any. Must listen for writers and readers equally.

Comment for "Buster & SpongeBob in Love"

Review of Buster & SpongeBob in Love

To use the sequence of letters coined in Instant Messagaing...LOL! While it's a very funny piece, it has the in-your-face (no pun intended) attitude towards people/critics who love to create controversy around cartoons.

Comment for "Lee Strasberg"

Review of Lee Strasberg

Is this supposed to be just 59 seconds? Both segments 1 and 2 have the same 59 second... promo (?). Maybe unintentional, but Strasberg saying a couple of words is not good enough a reason to be on PRX as a piece. Let's hope, hope the full piece has not mistakenly been uploaded.

Comment for "Lost In The Stacks"

Review of Lost In The Stacks

Narrated by Andre Picher in a half whisper, this piece comes together beautifully in its writing, production, and sound. Being a little bit of a library nut myself, I related to a lot of the feelings shared by the author. I didn't just listen to the author tell us about the libraries. I was in those libraries.

Comment for "Sixties TV and the Counterculture" (deleted)

Review of Sixties TV and the Counterculture (deleted)

The topic on television and culture, or more closely their relation to one another has been discussed a lot by other authors,but this piece focuses on the 60s. It compares the reflection of society on the small screen, or the lack thereof. One thing we do realize from listening to the piece, the problem still exists.

Comment for "The Black Ghosts of Paris"

Review of The Black Ghosts of Paris

A very delicate and well contructed piece. The composition of sounds with the voices are nicely knit. It has the feeling of an emotional journey to places where you've never been but you feel you're meant to. Liked the part a lot when the author carries us near the apartment where Langston Hughes had lived. Love the title!

Comment for "Brides for Sale"

Review of Brides for Sale

The statistics alone will shock the listeners. Surely we have all heard about the mail order bride services, even seen movies about it. But rarely have we had a chance to know details until this piece informs us of the unthinkable lives many Vietnamese women lead. The numbers are in hundreds of thousands, and that's just women stranded in Taiwan. Imagine how many others we will never know of. A must listen.

Comment for "Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop"

Review of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop

Chuck Haddix writes about the 20s and 30s Kansas City Jazz scene in his new book. In this piece he lets in on a few specific tid bits from the book like, to give couple of examples, the cutting contest between Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, and the musicans being treated like 'furniture'. There have been lots of documentaries on Jazz in Kansas City, but this piece manages to inform some more. A great preface to Haddix's book.

Comment for "Record Review: Sa-Ra Creative Partners" (deleted)

Review of Record Review: Sa-Ra Creative Partners (deleted)

A profile of the group Sa-Ra Creative Partners. Their fusion of musical styles and elements are fresh and have a unique twist. The basics of their compositions are all hip-hop, but the variations are all Sa-Ra CP. Good intro to the band's music and the members.