Riding Tiny

Oct 5, 2008

Murray, KY – In the picture, my sister Alice Jane and I are perched atop a fat pinto pony with silver studded halter and harness. On the stirrup are the pony's name, Tiny, and the date, 1941. Tiny belonged to a traveling photographer who walked Louisville's neighborhoods snapping pictures of smiling youngsters right in front of their houses. In the background is my Grandmother Schroeder's house. We lived there. Alice Jane was five. I was only two, but I remember the whole experience.

The Pruitt Sisters

Oct 5, 2008

Murray, KY – I've already told you a little bit about Aunt Bell and Aunt Emma Pruitt. You know, the two spinster ladies who lived next door to Grandma Schroeder? The ones who were not really my aunts and who made me afraid of dogs? And how they calmed me down by feeding me cold, homemade biscuits?

Murray, KY – I don't usually read academic mysteries; my actual experience as a college teacher provided me with more laughs and puzzles than the books could. But David Carkeet's Double Negative, about a bunch of linguists studying the development of language in small children, is different. For one thing, these people are not in a college setting; they work in a day-care center that is also an observing laboratory called the Wabash Institute.

Murray, KY – It was at the 2002 Chicago Jazz Festival where I was face to face with greatness. The bill for that night included Von Freeman, Carla Cook and Jimmy Heath. But the artist that most of us lined up to see was the great sax man Wayne Shorter.

Murray, KY – In 1986, French director Bertrand Tavernier put together an ensemble of great musicians and actors to produce one of the most influential movies of the decade, "'Round Midnight." The title of this movie came from Thelonius Monk and Cootie Williams classic composition of the same name.

The opening theme is beautifully sung by the innovative vocalist Bobby McFarrin. It is a story of longing, loss, conflict with inner demons, and the last hurrah of a fictional musician, Dale Turner.

Murray, KY – I was at my neighborhood Borders snooping around the second floor music section when I heard a soothing and erudite voice come over the store's stereo system. From the start, I recognized the tune, Invitation, as I have heard it performed several times by jazz artists in the past. But this rendition was different. It was articulated with longing, passion, and a sense of joy. This was my first introduction to jazz vocalist and pianist Patricia Barber.

Murray, KY – Nine years old. First day of fourth grade. I have barely mastered Double Dutch and long division. Our classroom is on the third floor of St. Francis School, not the first level like last year. After grade three, the girls have classes separate from the boys because males are deemed near occasions of sin, whatever that means.

Grade 4 - Girls is the room right across from the principal's office. On the first day of school it is she, Sister Philippa, who greets us.

Murray, KY – The little girl on the sepia-toned cover of Mulberry Child, A Memoir of China, meets the camera's eye with an unwavering gaze. The no-nonsense haircut and slight downward curve of her mouth suggest a serious demeanor, but the hint of color on the lips implies a spark of assertiveness lurking beneath author Jian Ping's earnest fa ade.

Dr. Brian Clardy

Murray, KY – For some, New Years Eve means a night with the family, gathered around a television to watch the ball drop as the clock strikes 12. For others, it's a night on the town, partaking in local festivities. One year, for Commentator Dr. Brian Clardy, it was a night at NPR's Toast of the Nation 2004, bringing in the new year in an intimate concert with Kurt Elling.

Click the "Listen" icon above to hear his commentary.

Murray, KY – Since its creation in 1966, African Americans have celebrated their cultural heritage with the celebration of Kwanzaa, which derives from a Swahili phrase meaning First Fruits. Dr. Brian Clardy and Dr. Debbie Owens explain the origins of the week long celebration and the seven associated principles.

Click the "Listen" icon above to hear their commentary.

Read the text for this commentary here.