Popular Culture

"Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age"

Jul 3, 2013

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a key player in the electrical revolution that transformed life itself at the dawn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and significantly contributed to the development of radio and TV. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was also one of America's first celebrity scientists --- yet he's not nearly as famous as Edison today. Why? Our guest is W. Bernard Carlson, a professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia.

Gilcrease Museum

Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum is currently showing one of the finest collections of early color printmaking, or chromolithography, in its exhibit called "Yellowstone and the West: The Chromolithographs of Thomas Moran," which is on display through September 8th at the museum. The exhibit features a suite of 15 prints commissioned and made by Louis Prang; these are prints of Moran's watercolors from his 1871 journey to Yellowstone as a member of the Hayden Expedition.

On this installment of ST, we listen back to our conversation with the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes, who joined us earlier this year to talk about his latest book, which was at that time just out in paperback: "Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash." This book presents a fascinating and highly detailed profile of America's biggest export, its most prodigious product, and perhaps its greatest legacy: garbage.

One of the more famous lines attributed to John Ford (1894-1973), the iconic film director who made many of the finest Westerns ever to come out of Hollywood, goes like this: "When the truth becomes legend, print the legend." That line is from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a movie from the early 1960s, but it just as clearly applies to "The Searchers," the classic Western from 1956, with John Wayne and Natalie Wood, which is commonly seen as a Ford masterpiece.

Our guest on this installment of StudioTulsa is Jonathan Rossetti, a young actor/writer/director who grew up in Tulsa and is now based in Los Angeles. Rossetti joins us by phone from Oklahoma City, where his newly completed indie film, "Home, James," will have its public debut tomorrow, Saturday the 8th, at 2pm at the Harkins Bricktown Cinema 2. "Home, James," which Rossetti directed, co-wrote, and stars in, is appearing as part of OKC's annual deadCenter Film Festival.

(Please note: This interview originally aired earlier this year.) Today on ST, we speak with the bestselling author of "Just My Type" and other works of wide-ranging, culturally- or historically-driven nonfiction, Simon Garfield. His new book, "On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks," is just out. It's a detailed yet accessible survey of the age-old relationship between man and map, if you will, a study of why we as human beings are (and always have been) so fixated upon mapping things.

On this edition of our show, we speak with the author and journalist Denise Kiernan, whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Discover, Ms., and many other publications. She's written a number of books for adults and children, and has also worked as a producer for ESPN, MSNBC, and other media outlets.

(Please note: This show originally aired earlier this year.) When we say that someone is a "tinkerer," we might be offering a word of praise...or a put-down. Today's edition of ST explores the positive definition of the term "tinkerer," as a creative inventor or innovator.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the widely celebrated young writer Nathaniel Rich (born 1980), whose essays and short stories have appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, and elsewhere, and whose latest novel is called "Odds Against Tomorrow." Late last week, Rich did a Book Smart Tulsa reading and signing in connection with this book; while he was here in town, we spoke with him. Set in a New York City of the very near future, the novel tells the story of one Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician who works for a financial consulting firm called FutureWorld.

Sure, you loved "The Catcher in the Rye" at the age of 16...but would you still love it? You appreciated "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Cannery Row" way back when, but would that still be the case today? And on the other hand, if the plays of Ibsen or Shakespeare didn't exactly knock you out during that long-ago sophomore year of college, do you think they'd still miss the mark? Or might they be worth another shot?

(Please note: This show first aired in December of last year.) On this edition of ST, we speak by phone with Jacob Tomsky, whose new book, "Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality," has been getting some glowing reviews from all over. A longtime veteran of the hotel biz, Tomsky here offers a detailed and unflinching yet also down-to-earth and amiable --- and, throughout, quite well-written --- autobiography about what it's really like to work (in every capacity) at an upscale hotel in America.

On this installment of ST, we're joined by our old friend and colleague, Jeff Martin, a local writer who's also the coordinator and creator of the popular Book Smart Tulsa reading series, the fiction editor at This Land, and an occasional commentator for this program. Jeff's newest book, just out, is an fun-to-read trade-paperback collection that brings together many works of short (make that "very short") fiction exploring "an Oklahoma of the mind," so to speak.

The "new KAKC" --- an AM Radio titan from the annals of Tulsa broadcasting --- emerged in the middle 1950s, when rock and roll was just starting to make its very significant mark on American culture. KAKC was the Top 40 station in our community, and invariably one of the most popular stops on the radio dial, well into the 1970s.

On this edition of ST, we welcome back Machele Miller Dill, an assistant professor of musical theatre here at the University of Tulsa. Dill is directing "Spring Awakening," which the TU Department of Theatre will present in the Lorton Performance Center (here on the TU campus) from tomorrow night (the 11th) through Sunday afternoon (the 14th).

What does it mean when the recent financial meltdown is fully understood by only one American citizen (or two, at the most) out of every 100 randomly chosen individuals? What should we make of law-makers --- based in Washington, DC, or elsewhere --- who debate nuclear policy when they've never taken a class in physics? What happens when people everywhere become more and more reliant on technology even as they understand less and less of it?

Our guest on this edition of StudioTulsa is A.O. Scott, who's been a film critic at The New York Times since 2000. Scott will appear at a "Talking Heads" lecture/Q&A this evening (Thursday the 4th) at Congregation B'nai Emunah in Tulsa, near 17th and Peoria. The event begins at 7pm, and there's an optional dinner beforehand, beginning at 5:45pm.

"Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes"

Apr 1, 2013

The 2013 Major League Baseball season officially got underway yesterday, Sunday the 31st, with a night game between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Welcome back, baseball! And therefore, on this edition of ST, we're talking about the life, career, and influence of one of the all-time great hitters, Hank Greenberg, who joined the Detroit Tigers in 1933 and went on to share the spotlight with the legendary sluggers of that era, including Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig.

On this installment of our show, we speak by phone with the writer, critic, and journalist Thomas Mallon, whose critically acclaimed novels include "Henry and Clara" and "Dewey Defeats Truman." Mallon frequently writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and The Atlantic, and his newest novel, just out in paperback, is "Watergate." Hailed as "wildly entertaining from beginning to end" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and "a brilliant presentation, subtle and sympathetic but spiked with satire" (The Washington Post), this novel was named a New York Times Notable Book as well as a S

"Hidden Cities: A Memoir of Urban Exploration"

Mar 27, 2013

If you're something of a daredevil, and further, if you've ever wondered what it'd be like to climb to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge --- or wander amid the catacombs beneath Paris, or maybe just take an up-close look at a "ghost station" within the far-reaching New York City subway system --- you might be a latent "urban explorer." Our guest on ST is an active explorer of this sort; Moses Gates, who joins us by phone, is also an urban planner, a licensed New York City tour guide, and an assistant professor of demography at the Pratt Institute.

Today on ST we speak by phone with Benjamin Lytal, who grew up in Tulsa and now resides in Chicago, and who has written for The Wall Street Journal, The London Review of Books, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Sun, The Believer, McSweeney's, and other publications. Lytal's first novel, "A Map of Tulsa," has just been published, and he'll be doing a free reading/signing in connection with this book tonight (Tuesday the 26th) at the Harwelden Mansion here in Tulsa at 7pm.

(Please note: This interview originally aired in November of last year.) On this installment of ST, a fascinating book about culture, cuisine, customs, cutlery, crockery, and civilization itself.

(Please note: This program originally aired last year.) On this edition of our show, we speak by phone with the author and writing instructor B. A. Shapiro about her widely praised novel, "The Art Forger." In 1990, more than a dozen works of art (today worth, in sum, $500+ million) were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, but in this equally fascinating and entertaining novel, our heroine --- Claire Roth, a struggling young artist --- learns more about this theft than she ever bargained for.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), the great American critic, fiction writer, poet, and satirist --- that famously witty (and frequently scathing) scribe whose many brilliant assertions include "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true" and "if all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised" --- is now back in business. That is, she's cracking wise all over again, in a manner of speaking, in a new book.

Our two guests on this edition of ST are Michael Wright and Steven Marzolf. Both are directing plays currently being presented in repertory by the TU Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre; Wright is directing Neil Simon's classic comedy/drama, "Biloxi Blues," which opens tonight, and Marzolf is directing John Murrell's "Waiting for the Parade," which opened last night. Both plays concern the Second World War, yet they differ in some interesting ways --- for example, Simon's play is essentially an all-male saga about coming of age amid the struggles of basic training in the U.S.

When we say that someone is a "tinkerer," we might be offering a word of praise...or a put-down. Today's edition of ST explores the positive definition of the "tinkerer," as a creative inventor or innovator.

On today's ST, we're spinning a seriously tasty variety --- a gumbo, in fact --- of great Mardi Gras music with Denis McGilvray, a local music blogger and longtime New Orleans music enthusiast.

(Please note that this interview originally aired in October of last year.) Our guest is Jeanne Marie Laskas, the director of the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh. She's also an acclaimed journalist whose writing has appeared in GQ, The Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian, and Esquire.

Tulsa Ballet will soon present "Lady of the Camellias," with performances scheduled for February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the Tulsa PAC.

Marcel Proust has his little madeleine cakes. Calvin Trillin has Arthur Bryant's BBQ in Kansas City. And Tulsa-based writer and editor Mark Brown has, well, his mother's bygone fried chicken. Food, for so many of us, is about much more than taste and sustenance, much more than flavors and rations. It's about culture, society, tradition, and practically everything else --- about the past, the seasons, our memories, our loved ones. Food is as basic to the human species as are celebrations, rituals, fingerprints, or dreams.

Talk about the influential use of language.... Did you know that "bloviate," "lunatic fringe," "iffy," "military-industrial complex," "Anglophobia," "public relations," and "ottoman" are all terms or phrases that have been either coined or popularized by various U.S. Presidents over the years?