Midday | WYPR



It's Midday at the Movies!

To help us spotlight some of the latest crop of Oscar contenders,  author and Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday and founding director of the Maryland Film Festival Jed Dietz join Tom in the studio.  Among the new films they discuss are:

First Man, a dramatic retelling of the 1969 mission to land the first men on the moon, from acclaimed director Damien Chazelle. It opened in October to positive reviews.  The strong cast includes Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong.

The much-anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, has earned a lukewarm critical response ahead of its wide release this weekend. But fans of the late rock singer -- and music fans generally -- will find plenty to enjoy in this lavishly produced tribute by director Bryan Singer.

And Halloween, an effort to revitalize the now decades-old horror franchise about a knife-wielding killer named Michael Myer, stars Jamie Lee Curtis as an elder Laura Strode, in a reprise of her role in the 1978 original.  The film by David Gordon Green has performed far better at the box office than most of the preceding Halloween installments.

Photography by Clinton Brandhagen

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us each week with a review of one of the region's many thespian offerings. This week, she spotlights Sweat, a Pulitzer-Prize winning drama about working class life in rural America playing at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

Published in 2015, Sweat earned acclaim for its powerful portrayal of poverty in the United States. Playwright Lynn Nottage interviewed residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, one of the nation's poorest cities, while researching the project. The story focuses on Tracey and Cynthia, two best friends played by Deborah Hazlett and Dawn Ursula, as the factory they work for lays off its employees and relocates to Mexico. Everyman Theatre founding Artistic Director Vincent M. Lancisi directs.

Everyman Theatre's production of Sweat runs through Thanksgiving weekend. Check here for ticket information.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Senate

Today, another installment in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Tom’s guest in Studio A is Sen. Ben Cardin.  Sen. Cardin has been a fixture in Maryland politics since 1967, when he was first elected to the House of Delegates.  He was Speaker of the House for eight years -- the youngest person in state history to hold that position.  He was elected to Congress in 1987, and twenty years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Cardin is the Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.  He is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Environment & Public Works and Finance committees.

We live-streamed this 30-minute conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.

Associated Press

On today's Fall-Winter edition of Midday's "Back to the Garden," our two favorite stewards of the soil join Tom in the studio with tips on harvesting and enjoying your autumn fruit and vegetable harvests, and preparing your garden beds for the winter -- and the spring planting ahead.

Carrie Engel is the Greenhouse Manager and a plant specialist at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville...

And Denzel Mitchell is the farm manager at Strength to Love 2 Farm, a one and-a-half acre workforce training farm in Sandtown-Winchester.   It’s one of several programs run by the faith-inspired community group, Intersection of Change

Denzel and Carrie take listeners' questions about their gardens and gardening.  We live-streamed the conversation on WYPR's Facebook page, and can watch the video beginning at 31:00 into the program.

Hate Speech, Hate Crimes

Oct 30, 2018
Associated Press

Today, Tom examines the connection between hate speech and hate crimes.

On Saturday, 11 people were killed in a shooting at a Pennsylvania synagogue by a man who later told police that he was seeking to kill Jews. The first funerals for the victims will be held today, and the hashtag #ShowUpForShabbat, calling for solidarity with the Jewish community, is trending on Twitter.

The Southern Poverty Law Center found 954 hate groups in the United States in 2017, four percent more than they identified the previous year.  The number of neo-Nazi groups rose 22 percent. Anti-Semitic incidents are also on the rise in the US at a rate that represents the largest year-on-year increase since the Anti Defamation League began collecting data in the late 1970s. Critics of President Donald Trump assert that these upticks in hate and bias incidents are a direct result of the President’s incendiary rhetoric, and the rhetoric of his supporters.

Joining Tom to discuss these issues are University of Connecticut Law Professor Richard Ashby Wilson, Hood College Professor of American and African American History Terry Anne Scott and Beth Am Synagogue Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg.

The Future of Maryland Sports

Oct 29, 2018

On this edition of Midday on Sports, Tom explores the controversies surrounding the University of Maryland football program, including the death of 19-year-old Jordan McNair, and the future of the Preakness Stakes. 

Joining Tom to discuss football are Jeff Barker and Mark Hyman. Jeff Barker is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun who covers sports business, among other issues. Mark Hyman is a professor at the George Washington University in the sports management program. 

Later, Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (D., 41st Dist) will discuss whether the Preakness Stakes will remain at the Pimlico Racetrack or move to a track in Laurel. Delegate Rosenberg has been an advocate for keeping the race at Pimlico. 

Midday News Wrap 10.26.18

Oct 26, 2018
Associated Press

It's the Midday Newswrap.

This week, after reports of explosive devices mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump put the nation on edge, Mr. Trump called for national unity.  But his call was short-lived.  Just after 3:00 this morning, he tweeted more barbs at the media. Saudi officials, meanwhile, were giving shifting explanations for the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their Turkish consulate earlier this month. CIA director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey to investigate, and briefed President Trump on what she learned.  Tom sorts through the week's extraordinary news with Associated Press national politics reporter Ken Thomas , who joins us on the line from Washington, DC.

Then, Tom turns to the week's local news.  There were media rumors -- false ones, it turns out -- that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had hired a new police commissioner for Baltimore City.  Critics of the Mayor complain that the hiring process for the new chief isn’t transparent enough. And early voting is underway in MD and around the country.  Polls had long lines yesterday.  Does this indicate heightened interest in this year’s mid terms?  Baltimore Sun investigative reporter Jean Marbella joins Tom in the studio to discuss the week's local developments.

Live in Studio A today: the Brazilian classical guitarist Fabio Zanon. Mr. Zanon will be in the Baltimore area this weekend to perform at the Kaplan Concert Hall on the campus of Towson Univerity Saturday, Oct. 27th, from 8-10 pm.  His performance opens the annual concert series presented by the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society.

Fabio Zanon will also be teaching a free master class for guitarists, open to the public, at the Peabody Institute on Sunday, Oct. 28th  beginning at 10 am. 

Kwame Alexander

Today, Tom’s guest is award-winning young-adult author, poet and educator Kwame Alexander.  He has written 28 books, including "Booked," which was nominated for a National Book Award, and "The Crossover," winner of the Newberry Medal for middle grades novel. "Swing," his latest novel co-written with Mary Rand Hess, is a follow-up to "The Crossover."

He is the winner of many awards, including the Coretta Scott King Author Honor and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize, and he’s received three NAACP Image Award nominations. He’s also the founder of Versify, a publishing arm of Houghton Mifflin, and he hosts a literary show called Bookish, which airs on Facebook Watch.

Johns Hopkins University

Today, another edition of Midday on Ethics with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of BioethicsOn this installment, we’ll explore some ethical questions drawn from the remarkable documentary film, Three Identical Strangers, and from the 1818 horror/science fiction classic, Frankenstein.

In the film, a set of triplets were adopted at six months old by separate families in the New York City area. The children were part of a secret scientific study that  examined the outcomes for genetically identical children who were raised in different circumstances. 

We then shift the conversation to discuss the ethical consequences of the work of a fictional scientist, Dr. Frankenstein. The novel by Mary Shelley is now 200 years old. Yet the ethical questions raised by the novel and the many Frankenstein films inspired by it force us to ask what it means to be human, and to confront the hubris shown by many involved in modern-day efforts to create and modify life.  

Dr. Kahn will be part of a panel discussion at the Parkway Theatre on Oct. 31 titled "What Frankenstein's Monster Can Teach Us About Being Human." The panel is part of a series of events hosted by Johns Hopkins University to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein's publication. You can see a full list of events here.

Everyman Theatre

Today, we go behind the scenes of the the latest offering from Baltimore's Everyman Theatre: Sweat by playwright Lynn Nottage. The play follows working-class individuals in Reading, Pennsylvania, as they struggle with layoffs, de-industrialization and economic inequality. Nottage spent over two years conducting field research and interviews in Reading in order to ground herself in the community and learn more about the residents' lives before she wrote the play.

When Nottage was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Sweat, the Pulitzer jury called it “a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.” Nottage’s gritty tale has been described by The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman as "the first theatrical landmark of the Trump era…a tough yet empathetic portrait of the America that came undone." 

Vincent Lancisi is the founding artistic director of Everyman Theatre, and the director of its new production of Sweat.  Dawn Ursula, a resident company actor, plays Cynthia, one of the lead roles in the drama. They join Tom in Studio A. 

Sweat opens on Friday at Everyman Theatre and runs through Nov. 25. You can buy tickets online here. Our theatre critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, will have her review of Sweat on Midday next Thursday, Nov. 1.

National Archives and Records Administration.

Russia interfered in  the 2016 presidential election. That’s the consensus of a long list of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the FBI. Now, the Director of National Intelligence is warning of foreign interference in this year’s election.

Adding to the possible risk is aging equipment, the lack of a paper trail in some states, and human error.

Is the election safe across the country? Joining  Tom are voting security experts Liz Howard, from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, and Kim Zetter, a journalist who has covered cybersecurity for more than a decade.  Then, Tom asks Maryland State Election Administrator Linda Lamone  what’s being done to secure the vote closer to home.

Olszewski and Redmer campaigns.

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates with John Olszewski, Jr. and Al Redmer, Jr. who are running to be the next Baltimore County Executive. 

Redmer, a Republican, is a former delegate and the current Maryland Insurance Commissioner. Olszewski, a Democrat, is also a former delegate who taught in Baltimore County Schools. He’s currently working in the private sector.

Some of the issues that have dominated the discussion during the campaign include school overcrowding, universal Pre-K, affordable housing, development, public safety and addressing the opioid crisis. 

Today, the candidates will have a chance to share their ideas about the future of the state’s third largest jurisdiction. They join Tom in Studio A for a moderated discussion. 

This conversation was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch the video here.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th.  Early Voting begins Thursday, October 25th. 

Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Hospital

This Saturday an estimated 23,000 runners from all 50 states and 17 countries will take over Charm City for the 18th annual Baltimore Running Festival. 5,000 entrants are slated to run the 5k; 10,000 will take on the half marathon; and 4,000 runners have set their ambitions on conquering the 26.2 mile full marathon. 

Dr. Miho Tanaka  joins Tom today in Studio A to answer your fitness questions and share tips on conditioning and avoiding injuries during the big race, or while partaking in whatever physical activity you like to do.   

The conversation was live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page. Watch the video.

Courtesy of Andy Harris for Congress

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Republican Congressman Andy Harris joins Tom Hall in the Midday studio for an hour of discussion about the issues in his bid for re-election. 

Harris, a licensed physician, is a former Naval Reservist and Maryland State Senator (1999-2010)  who has represented Maryland’s 1st Congressional District since 2011.  His winning re-election margins ever since have been substantial.  In June, he handily won his party's primary to run for a fifth term.  He is a staunch conservative in a sprawling district that includes all or part of 12 different counties, including the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Harford and Carroll Counties.   

Maryland's 1st Congressional District is the only one in the state that Donald Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election.  This year, Harris faces a spirited challenge from the Democratic nominee, Jesse Colvin, a former US Army Ranger and a first-time candidate.

Today, Rep. Andy Harris also addresses some of your calls, emails, tweets and Facebook comments.  As with all the interviews in Tom's Conversations with the Candidates series, this program was Live-Streamed on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch that video here.

Early voting starts one week from today.

Voter Mobilization in Maryland

Oct 17, 2018
Fibonacci Blue/Flickr Creative Commons

Today, four guests join Tom for a conversation about voter mobilization efforts in Maryland.

Nykidra Robinson is the founder of Black Girls Vote, an organization based here in Baltimore that encourages women of color to vote. 

Sam Novey is a co-founder of #BaltimoreVotes, which works with community groups to increase voter turnout.

Catalina Byrd is a Baltimore-based media and political consultant.

Kyle Lierman is the CEO of a non-partisan get-out-the-vote organization called When We All Vote, founded by Michelle Obama.

Election Day is Nov. 6 and early voting begins on Oct. 25. You can still register to vote at an early voting location in Maryland. Please remember to get out and vote

We livestreamed this conversation.  To catch that video, click here. 

Rapid Lemon Productions

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us each week with a review of one of the region's many thespian offerings.  Today, she spotlights Dirty Pictures, a new work from Rapid Lemon Productions, getting its world premiere this month at the Baltimore Theater Project

The final production in Rapid Lemon's 2018 season, Dirty Pictures is a bawdy comedy about four people whose lives are transformed by the discovery of some sexually explicit photographs in a Colorado roadhouse in 1982.  RLP's artistic director, Lance Bankerd, directs the cast that features Chara Bauer as Bonnie, Terrance Fleming as Dan, Allison Sarah Burrell as Judy, and Matthew Lindsay Payne as Chet. 

A semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, this play is the latest work by D.W. Gregory, a playwright and educator currently living in Washington DC. Her previous work includes Radium Girls and Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, which showcased at this summer's Contemporary American Theater Festival.

Gregory's work examines American culture through a political and often comedic lens, and it's won and been nominated for numerous awards.

Rapid Lemon Production's  Dirty Pictures continues at The Theatre Project through Sunday, October 21st.

Courtesy of Jabari Asim

Author Jabari Asim joins Tom in Studio A today.  Asim is a former editor and columnist for The Washington Post and the Editor-in-Chief of The Crisis,  the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His 2007 book, "The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why" was acclaimed for its important and trenchant observations about race in America.

Asim’s latest book, titled "We Can't Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival," is a collection of personal and political essays that continues his exploration of the complex dynamics of race, in particular around what he calls the “narrative combat” that white and black people engage in as they live and encounter racial inequality from vastly different perspectives.

Tony Campbell: Republican for US Senate

Oct 15, 2018
Campbell 4 Maryland

Today on Midday, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Tom's guest for the hour is Tony Campbell, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate. He is an adjunct professor of political science at Towson University and is one of four candidates running for the seat currently held by Democrat Ben Cardin

Courtesy Baltimore Watchdog

T.J. Smith resigned on Wednesday after serving nearly four years as the Baltimore Police Department’s Chief Spokesperson.  He cited political turmoil and discord in the department, which is still searching for a permanent commissioner.

T.J. Smith joins Tom on the line to discuss the future of the beleaguered BPD. 

News Wrap 10.12.18

Oct 12, 2018
Photo courtesy Flickr

It's the Midday Newswrap: Seven Baltimore Police Department officers have been implicated as part of an internal investigation into the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. As of October 4, the department has suspended 20 officers who could face criminal charges following the investigation.

Polls show Gov. Larry Hogan maintaining a comfortable lead over his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous.  Some State Senate races, and tight races for Baltimore County Executive and Attorney General give Republicans hope that they can make this Blue state a little Redder on election day.  

To review these and other local news stories this week, Tom is joined in the studio by Kamau High, Features Editor at The Baltimore Sun and WYPR reporter John Lee.

Courtesy Annapolis Shakespeare Company

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us today with a review of the new production of William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company.

In this fast-paced farce, which many consider one of Shakespeare's funniest plays, two sets of identical twins,  separated during a shipwreck, are reunited after a succession of mistaken identities, situational shenanigans, and a steady stream of puns and antic wordplay.  The Bard's classic comedy -- reimagined in an 1890s Paris setting with a SteamPunk theme and a time-travel twist -- is directed for Annapolis Shakespeare by Sally Boyett.

The Comedy of Errors continues at Annapolis Shakespeare Company til Sunday, October 28.

Courtesy of Jesse Colvin for Congress

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.

Jesse Colvin is running for Congress in Maryland’s sprawling 1st Congressional District.  In a crowded primary field last summer, he beat five other Democrats. 

Now, with the November 6 General Election less than a month away, Colvin faces incumbent Andy Harris in the only Maryland congressional district that leans Republican.  Harris, a Republican, is seeking his 5th term in the US Congress.

Colvin served four combat deployments in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger and intelligence officer.  He says that running for Congress is another call to serve.  This is his first run for elective office.

Jesse Colvin joins Tom in Studio A.

We live-streamed this conversation on Facebook.  To see that video, click here. 

Cover art courtesy Basic Books

The NFL is one of the most successful sports businesses in history.  With annual revenues hovering between $13 and $14 billion dollars, it is in many ways an unparalleled juggernaut.  But when the NFL’s first game was played in Akron, OH in 1920, it wasn’t nearly as popular as college football, and there were plenty of people who thought the five owners who formed the league were destined for failure. 

In his latest book, John Eisenberg chronicles the rivalry and the cooperation between those five owners -- Art Rooney, George Halas, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, and Bert Bell -- that set the stage for the NFL to grow to its present-day gargantuan proportions. 

Eisenberg is a columnist for BaltimoreRavens.com, and the author of nine books.  His latest is The League:  How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire.  He'll be discussing his book tonight at 7:00pm at the Ivy Bookshop on Falls Road in North Baltimore. 

Now, John Eisenberg joins Tom in Studio A.

Image courtesy of Big Mouth Productions

The new documentary film Charm City paints an intimate portrait of life in Baltimore's Madison - East End neighborhood, one of the city's most distressed areas. The film offers a candid look at the neighborhood's residents, their relationship with the police and how they tackle day-to-day challenges.

Filmed over a three-year period, including the prelude and aftermath of Freddie Gray's death and the Baltimore Uprising, Charm City follows the stories of police officers, community leaders and city lawmakers as they grapple with violence and a crisis of confidence in law enforcement.

Today, Tom speaks with Marilyn Ness, the director and producer of Charm City. She is an Emmy, Peabody and DuPont Award winning filmmaker.

Images courtesy Columbia Global Reports

We begin today with a conversation about the rise of nationalism as a political movement.  Brazil is holding a run-off election at the end of the month following the near victory of Jair Bolsonaro, an admirer of some of Brazil’s past dictators.  Several countries in Europe have seen a far-right brand of nationalism ascendant in recent years, and of course, Donald Trump’s doctrine of “America First” and his rallying motto, "Make America Great Again" were key ingredients to his electoral victory in 2016.

Tom's guest is John Judis, who trains his gaze on the global rise of nationalism in his latest book.  John Judis is a former senior editor at the New Republic.  He is an Editor at Large at Talking Points Memo, and the author of seven books.  The new one is called The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization.

Photo courtesy Dr. Leana Wen

Dr. Leana Wen has been selected as the new president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She assumes her new role on  November 12. For the first time in nearly 50 years, a physican will lead the century-old reproductive health services and education organization.

As a patient advocate and an emergency physician, Dr. Wen has led the Baltimore City Health Department since January 2015. She has devoted her career to expanding access to health care for low income communities, reducing health disparities, and finding innovative solutions to some of the most challenging public health problems today, from opioid abuse and teen pregnancy to the epidemic of gun violence.

DeRay Mckesson on the Case for Hope

Oct 8, 2018
Photo Credit Robert Adam Mayer

In his new book, the activist and organizer DeRay Mckesson writes that “Faith is the belief that certain outcomes will happen; and hope the belief that certain outcomes can happen."  He writes compellingly about faith, hope, and the work of social justice in this new era of civil rights activism, shaped by the Black Lives Matter Movement, and operating in a social media environment that has dramatically altered the capacity of organizers to direct protest in ways that only a few years ago were unimaginable. 

The book is called On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope, and is out now.   We livestreamed this conversation. To see the video, click here.    

Courtesy of John Waters

Tom's guest for the hour is John Waters. He’s a filmmaker, actor, and writer -- not necessarily in that order. Early in his career, Waters established himself as an enfant terrible who was affectionately dubbed the "King of Sleaze." His filmography spans 40 years and 16 films, some of which are cult classics, while others, like Hairspray, are revered as popular icons.

John Waters is also the author of eight books, including Role Models, a collection of essays of people who have shaped his life in important ways; Carsick, his journal of a hitchhiking trip from Baltimore to San Francisco; and Make Trouble, adopted from a speech he delivered at the Rhode Island School of Design.

What is perhaps less well known by the general public  is that John Waters is also a prolific and insightful visual artist. On Sunday, the Baltimore Museum of Art will open a major retrospective of John’s work, in a show that includes 160 examples of art that show Waters to be a trenchant observer and analyst of popular culture. The show is called Indecent Exposure.  John and BMA curator Kristen Hileman will have a public conversation about the exhibition on the first of November.  And on Friday night, Nov. 9, the BMA will screen 18 hours of John Waters movies. There will be prizes for folks who complete the entire Waters film marathon.

Baltimore is also one of the stops on the John Waters Christmas tour this season. You can catch “A John Waters Christmas” at the Baltimore Soundstage on Dec. 19.

We livestreamed this conversation.  To see the video, click here. 


It's another edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly look at new films and new trends in filmmaking, with our movie maven regulars:  Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, and the Maryland Film Festival's founding -- and soon-to-retire -- director, Jed Dietz.

Jed and Ann, long-time partners on these monthly Midday get-togethers, spend a few minutes considering the important and enduring changes that have come to the Baltimore film scene since Jed launched the MD Film Festival twenty years ago. One of those changes is the successful restoration of the SNF Parkway, one of the city's oldest movie houses, which now plays a vibrant role on the first-run and art-house film circuits.  The annual Maryland Film Festival, Ann notes, has also energized local filmmaking, and given moviemakers from around the world an important new venue for showcasing their work.