Category Archives: Crosswords

The Misunderstood Poem

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .”  One hundred years after its first publication in August 1915, Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that it is, in fact, a poem. Yet poetry it is, and Frost’s immortal lines remain unbelievably popular. And yet in spite of this devotion, almost everyone gets the poem hopelessly wrong. David Orr is the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review and Professor of the Practice at Cornell University, his new book,The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong  dives directly into the controversy, illuminating the poem’s enduring greatness while revealing its mystifying contradictions. Orr presents a fresh take on what many may consider a hi-brow topic, with a healthy dose of pop culture and smart observations. David Orr explains to Norman B the poem’s enduring greatness, while revealing its mystifying contradictions.

Also in the program, Michael Sharp, aka Rex Parker, is the man behind the popular crossword puzzle blog, “Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle.” gives a moving tribute to the crossword master, Merl Reagle, who sadly died suddenly, one week ago. Plus Oscar and Grammy-winning songwriter, and recovery advocate Paul Williams, and screenwriter and author Tracey Jackson enthusiastically talk about their book, Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life. And, to round out the show, this week’s Hit That Never Was features Department Of Eagles with No One Does It Like You from their 2008 release In Ear Park.

Life Elsewhere airs:
Sundays at 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays at 7.00pm ET at WROM Radio
Mondays at 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

Past editions of Life Elsewhere are available at the WMNF Listen-On-Demand feature

Six Affirmations & A Tribute To The Puzzle Master

Oscar and Grammy-winning songwriter, and recovery advocate Paul Williams, and screenwriter and author Tracey Jackson join Norman B for the next edition of Life Elsewhere to talk about their book, Gratitude and Trust, just released in paperback. The two long-time friends teamed up to write the book, subtitled, Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life. The interview, like their book, is spirited, conversational, entertaining and educational. Paul and Tracey explain to Norman B how they combined the knowledge Paul has gained in the twenty-four years he has spent working in the recovery movement, healing both himself and helping others to heal and Tracey’s lifelong quest for peace and a daily routine to get her through the ups and downs of life.

He was America’s first celebrity crossword writer: He made appearances on Oprah and The Simpsons, he was featured in the hit 2006 documentary Wordplay, and was mobbed at book signings and crossword tournaments by fans. He was crossword constructor Merl Reagle who died August 22, 2015, after being hospitalized two days earlier for acute pancreatitis. Merl’sbusiness was words and mere words alone cannot do justice enough to tell how sad we are to mourn the passing of a favorite guest on Life Elsewhere. In our next edition, we will pay tribute to Mr. Reagle and listen back to a few samples of his famous wit and beloved personality.

Life Elsewhere airs:
Sundays at 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays at 7.00pm ET at WROM Radio
Mondays at 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

Merl Reagle, Rest In Peace.

Merl Reagle

Merl Reagle

Sadly, news came in just after we had just completed the latest edition of Life Elsewhere, that celebrated crossword constructor Merl Reagle had died. Resplendent with a crossword puzzle decorated tie, Merl joined our program on a couple of occasions. Merl Reagle was a quick-witted, charming, erudite man and one of our most popular guests. Always accompanied by his wonderful wife, Marie Haley, together they made impressive team, able to syndicate and make a full-time living from constructing crossword puzzles.

In 2006, he was featured in a documentary, Wordplay, that focused on the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, for which he was a judge and commentator. After the documentary came out, James L. Brooks, the main producer on The Simpsons, saw it and liked it enough to create an episode of the cartoon featuring Merl.

Merl Reagle was hospitalized, this past Thursday with acute pancreatitis. He died Saturday morning in a Tampa hospital. He was 65. It was our honor to have been able to spend time with Merl and his wife. Our sincerest condolences to Marie Haley and Merl‘s family.

Remembering George

George Romansic

As we were putting this edition of Life Elsewhere together, news came in that George Romansicpioneer of the alternative music scene in Seattle had died after a long battle with brain cancer. George, played drums with a gusto that belied his unobtrusive, placid demeanour. He will be remembered for his crucial part in now cult favorites, The Beakers, 3 Swimmers and Danger Bunny. What is not so widely known is the significant part George played in how Life Elsewhere came about. Noman B will pay tribute to his long-time friend in the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

Also in the program, author and journalism professor Ben Yagoda, will talk about his new book, The B-Side, The Death Of Tin Pan Alley And The Rebirth Of The Great American Song. The acclaimed cultural historian has written an entertaining, well-researched exploration of America’s songwriting history. The story has many twists and turns, but the reality of why and how the great American songbook almost vanished is not as straightforward as you may think. Make sure you listen in to catch samples of music you may have almost forgotten.

Alan Connor, London-based author and TV producer joins the program to talk about his new book, The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief. You’ll hear about the colorful characters who make up the interesting and often bizarre subculture of crossword constructors and competitive solvers. The A-list names of some of the more well-known among the puzzle solvers, may surprise you. Connor even explains how your character is revealed by the implement you use.

Frank Tovey aka Fad GadgetThis week, in the portion of the program where a listener takes over and selects The Hit That Never Was, we’ll play the first single released on the innovative Mute records in 1979, Fad Gadget with Back To Nature. The late Francis John “Frank” Tovey, was a British avant-garde electronic musician and vocalist. He was a proponent of both new wave and early industrial music, fusing together a unique blend of pop structured songs mixed with mechanised experimentation. As Fad Gadget, his music was characterised by the use of synthesizers in conjunction with sounds of found objects, including drills and electric razors. His bleak, sarcastic and darkly humorous lyrics were filled with biting social commentary toward subjects such as machinery, industrialisation, consumerism, human sexuality, mass media, religion, domestic violence and dehumanization while often being sung in a deadpan voice.

Make sure you take notice of our new live broadcast time and place: 12 noon ET, every Sunday at WMNF The Source HD3. It’s easy to listen, click here in your browser. And, you can listen on your iPhone or iPad, get the new WMNF player here. Life Elsewhere can also be heard at NWCZ Radio, every Monday at 5.00pm Pacific Time.

Tin Pan Alley, Crosswords & A Tribute

On the next edition of Life Elsewhere, author and journalism professor Ben Yagoda, will talk about his new book, The B-Side, The Death Of Tin Pan Alley And The Rebirth Of The Great American Song. The acclaimed cultural historian has written an entertaining, well-researched exploration of America’s songwriting history. The story has many twists and turns, but the reality of why and how the great American songbook almost vanished is not as straightforward as you may think. Make sure you listen in to catch samples of music you almost forgot about.

Alan Connor, London-based author and TV producer joins the program to talk about his new book, The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief. You’ll hear about the colorful characters who make up the interesting and often bizarre subculture of crossword constructors and competitive solvers. The A-list names of some of the more well-known among the puzzle solvers, may surprise you. Connor even explains how your character is revealed by the implement you use.

This week in the portion of the program where a listener takes over and selects The Hit That Never Was, we’ll play the first single released on the innovative Mute records in 1979, Fad Gadget with Back To Nature. The late Francis John “Frank” Tovey, was a British avant-garde electronic musician and vocalist. He was a proponent of both new wave and early industrial music, fusing together a unique blend of pop structured songs mixed with mechanised experimentation. As Fad Gadget, his music was characterised by the use of synthesizers in conjunction with sounds of found objects, including drills and electric razors. His bleak, sarcastic and darkly humorous lyrics were filled with biting social commentary toward subjects such as machinery, industrialisation, consumerism, human sexuality, mass media, religion, domestic violence and dehumanization while often being sung in a deadpan voice.

Sadly, as we were putting this edition of Life Elsewhere together, news came in that George Romansic, a man who played a significant part in how Life Elsewhere began, had succumbed to brain cancer. George was a pioneer of the alternative music scene in Seattle, playing drums with effortless verve in now cult favorites, The Beakers, 3 Swimmers and Danger Bunny, Noman B will pay tribute to his long-time friend.

Coincidences, coincidences…Norman saw George Romansic for the last time in April, 2014, in Seattle. George had just returned from a cancer treatment, when they met up; instead of bemoaning his disconcerting condition, he prefered to quizz Norman on which Killing Joke record was the best. Undoubtedly, George would be eager to read Norman B’s interview with Martin “Youth” Glover, legendary Killing Joke  bassist and producer… just published one day ago at the excellent Trebuchet Magazine.

Make sure you take notice of our new live broadcast time and place: 12 noon ET, every Sunday at WMNF The Source HD3. It’s easy to listen, click here in your browser. And, you can listen on your iPhone or iPad, get the new WMNF player here.

« Older Entries