Nora Ephron

June 29th, 2012

In an era in which Hollywood still deals with the lack of woman as writers, producers and directors, Nora Ephron was a triple threat. Her loss will be felt profoundly, not only by her family, but to her industry.

Several years ago I had the chance to talk with her about Hollywood, about aging, illness and the need to live life fully.

Here is that conversation:

There must be a better way to do this…

June 25th, 2012

Modern life has seen to it that almost everything in our society has been subject to a kind of creative destruction. We've talked many times about the impact of technology and science in traditional medicine. But what about psychoanalysis. Up until now, the traditional methods have taken a long time. Regardless if it was Woody Alan or Tony Soprano on the couch, there seemed to be no quick fix.

Now all of that may be changing. Phil Stutz and Barry Michels have a very different approach, one designed around the idea of instant results!  It’s no wonder that they have become the "go to therapists" for Hollywood. Their office is a kind of denizen of  top actors, directors, agents, writers and other creative professionals.  Now they have codified their particularly unique approach in a new book entitled The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity.

My conversation with Phil Stutz and Barry Michels:

It’s a Bird…It’s A Plane, It’s……

June 22nd, 2012

The character of Superman made his first appearance in June of 1938, some 75 years ago. The character touched a nerve in the hunger for heroism in the run up to WWII. But what has allowed this character to evolve and endure for almost eight decades? During a time when virtually everything about our society, our values and our ideas, have changed, Superman and what he represents has been a kind of true north for many. What did his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, understand about America that would allow them to create the touchstone for truth, justice and the American way? Journalist Larry Tye in Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero takes us inside the Superman legacy.

My conversation with Larry Tye:

The truth about lying

June 21st, 2012

When congressman Joe Wilson stood up during a speech by President Obama and said, “you lie,” he could have been talking to all of us. While we are told to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we seldom do. From corruption in our government, to test-score scandals, from elected leaders’ extramarital affairs to the Ponzi schemes of Wall Street, cheating and dishonesty are significant parts of our culture—and inescapable parts of the human condition.

That's the findings of Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and the author of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves. He's run experiments with some 30,000 people and found that very few people lie a lot, but almost everyone lies a little.

My conversation with Dan Ariely:

Sam, the banana man

June 19th, 2012

Balzac said that "behind every great fortune, there is a great crime." For some fortunes, there is more than one.  Little have we known that behind every humble banana, there is a great story, some great crimes,  and certainly some great characters.  Sam Zemurry, the man who brought the banana to America, was a shadowy figure whose presence impacted the creation of the State of Israel, The Cold War, and the rise of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara...all from the simple banana.

Best selling author Rich Cohen tells the story in The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King

My conversation with Rich Cohen:

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat

June 18th, 2012

Restaurant reviews, foodies and food criticism have all become a major part of the culture. I sit here writing this, at the epicenter of American Food, Wine and Celebrity Chiefs. But this wasn't always the case. There was a time before food critics, before the rise of quality ethnic food, before celebrity, before Craig Claiborne came to the New York Times.

Craig Claiborne invented professional restaurant criticism, and was also the man who introduced the American palate to arugula, balsamic vinegar and chef's knives; leading us out of a vast culinary wasteland. Thomas McNamee, who previously wrote about Alice Waters, takes us inside The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance

My conversation with Thomas McNamee:

America the Philosophical???

June 14th, 2012

Judging by most of the political discourse, reality television, TMZ, tabloids newspapers and magazine and some social networking, it might be safe to argue that we are a nation of philistines. Yet long time social critic Carlin Romano, in his new work America the Philosophical argues just the opposite; that we are perhaps the most philosophical nation in history.

My conversation with Carlin Romano:

An Extraordinary Father and Son

June 13th, 2012

There is a wonderful quote about travel from TS Eliot who said that "we shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

The same might also be said of understanding the people we travel with, even if they are our own family.  After all, how much have each of us learned about our own family members on those family vacations?

Esteemed journalist and writer Buzz Bissinger took a journey with his son that would indeed land him back where he started, but it was truly as if he knew his son for the very first time. His new book Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son is a memoir of that trip.

My conversation with Buzz Bissinger:

The real digital divide

June 11th, 2012

If you watch movies or read novels or simply understand the drama that is the human condition, you know that human behavior is often shrouded in mystery. Why we do what we do, how we act and what we think about at four AM, are at the heart of what make us who we are, and in fact what makes us interesting.

On the other hand, if we reveal everything about ourselves; if Facebook, and LinkedIn and social networks in general track our every move, our every action, where is the mystery? If every thought is posted, or tweeted, or shared, then where is the human discovery? If we forget that we are more than the sum total of our data points, than Andrew Keene is here to remind us. Keen argues in his new work Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, that the social network may be weakening, not building up our relationships.

My conversation with Andrew Keen:

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