Scott Simon

And the winner is, La La Land!

Oh, sorry. Someone handed me the wrong script.

Gary Alan Coe — Gary from Chicago, as he introduced himself — enjoyed four minutes and 40 seconds of fame this week when he was first in a line of Hollywood tourists ushered into the Dolby Theater during the Oscars ceremonies.

Most of the tourists seemed flabbergasted to be paraded, in their shorts and fanny-packs, in front of cinema stars in silk and glitter.

The Academy Awards are Sunday night. But that's just what we call a peg for what I really want to talk about.

This spring marks the 45th anniversary of The Godfather.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Francis Coppola's film is smartly scripted, beautifully acted and gorgeously directed. It's one of those special films you can see every few years and notice something new each time. It's an opera, really, where the arias are story lines about love, blood and America.

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It's been a hard week in Peoria.

William Ryan Owens, the Navy Seal who was killed in a raid in Yemen, was from Peoria, Ill. Defense Secretary James Mattis said, "He gave his full measure for our nation."

And the Caterpillar company announced that after more than 90 years, it is moving its world headquarters from Peoria to Chicago. It is hard to overestimate the blow this is to Peoria.

I am surrounded by Mary Tyler Moores: smart, strong, independent women who have enriched the news business, and, for that matter, our world.

When Mary Tyler Moore died this week, at the age of 80, a lot of women in the news business — and women who are lawyers, teachers, accountants, and software engineers — cited Mary Richards, the role she played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970 to 1977, as an inspiration.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


The one best wish I think I have for the country as a new administration comes to office is that there is a revival of respect.

It can be depressing, especially on these days that celebrate a peaceful and democratic transfer of power, to recount the many times this year political rhetoric got coarse, boorish, and even cruel.

I want to be fair about this. But in the news business, we can't pretend that one candidate didn't utter more of those kinds of remarks than any other; and he won.

There is a funeral service for Ashley Theriot in Pensacola, Fla. today. She was just 32, and a gifted freelance writer.

The death of a vibrant young person is a tragedy in all ways. But the person who dies can leave a gift for someone else to go on. That can be a flesh and blood blessing.

Ashley Theriot returned from Colombia on Jan. 1 and began to have seizures. She turned out to have a rare tear in the artery of her brain stem.

The 17-year-old son of a new congressman became a kind of celebrity this week by being just a little naughty. Or maybe trying to appear a little naughtier than he may actually be.

We won't repeat his name, although it's easy to discover. I think a 17-year-old has the right to make a mistake that won't follow him for the rest of his life, including six years from now, when he applies for a job; or in 12 years, when he wants to get married; or in 20 when his children see a picture and ask, "Dad — is that you? What were you doing?"

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Alice Furlaud was a ray of light: a graceful writer, with a fresh, unfiltered view of the world, who had maybe the most prized asset a writer can have — an utterly distinct voice.

Ally contributed essays and stories to NPR over the years, for about as long as this place has been in business. Her pieces from Paris were fabled: wry but warm essays that meandered like a stroll through through the streets.

I spent a Millennium with Gwen Ifill. It was PBS' special Millennium coverage to ring in 2000, co-produced with the BBC. Just the two of us, planted in a studio, talking between performances, images, and interviews from around the world, hour after hour as all four numbers on the calendar flipped into a new century.

A lot of us live in bubbles. The bubbles that took some pot-shots this week are the ones in which pundits, reporters, and other opinion-flingers who seemed dead-solid-certain that Hillary Clinton would be elected president of the United States on Tuesday live, work, breathe the same air, and seem to exhale similar opinions.

I know baseball is not real life.

While Chicago's streets teemed with loud whoops and waving banners as the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, 18 more people were killed over two days on the south and west sides of the city. The number of homicides in Chicago has surged past 600 this year. 2016 could be the city's deadliest year in nearly 20, and the people in those afflicted neighborhoods, usually a long way from Wrigley Field, will remember this year more for their losses than any World Series victory.

Every week we get emails and tweets from people who say they are so appalled by this year's election campaign they no can longer pay attention to the news. Then they often go on to give us full details about the latest incident in the campaign that's so repulsed them.

A lot of Americans say they are disgusted by this year's election. And the data says they can't get enough of it.

I have a special respect for political losers. Losing can reveal a candidate's character in a humbling, vulnerable moment.

An Ohio politician who lost a race for governor once explained to me that most politicians are used to being popular. They were often class officers and top athletes as kids, who become lawyers, professors, or business owners. They get used to people listening to them, and laughing at their jokes.

There is an ominous milestone to mark in the heart of America. The Medical Examiner of Cuyahoga County, Ohio says 52 people were killed there last month because they overdosed on opioid painkillers, including heroin.

Because a few toxicology reports are still pending, the final number of deaths for September is expected to exceed 52, which would make a grim new monthly record for the county.

And the Medical Examiner has 14 suspected deaths by overdose in just the first week of October.

Jo Du was being helped into her gorgeous white wedding dress this week when a tooth on the zipper broke. It was Sunday in Guelph, Ontario, and no tailor shop was open.

Jo Du didn't want to walk down the aisle to marry Earl Lee with pins in the back of her dress. But no one in the wedding party knew how to make the repair.

Now Play Nice, Children

Sep 17, 2016

There was no moderator of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. There was a timekeeper, usually some respected town elder in Alton, Freeport or Galesburg, Ill., who would keep track of how long a candidate could speak, then say something like, "Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. Your turn now, Sen. Douglas," and vice versa.

But there was no moderator. Each candidate spoke in turn. They asked each other questions directly. They could accuse each other of being wrong, or not telling the truth, face to face, and did.

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

Just before Jeni Stepien got married to Paul Maenner last Saturday, she turned to the man who walked her down the aisle and put her hand on his chest — to feel the heartbeat of the father she lost ten years ago.

Michael Stepien was a chef, on his way home from work at a restaurant in suburban Pittsburgh in September 2006 when he was robbed by a 16-year-old who shot him through the head.

Arthur Thomas was a school counselor in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and a father of four who had been diagnosed with a heart disease 16 years before. He was in a hospital, close to death.

Did anyone see Gags last night?

This week, a clown has been making the late-night scene in Green Bay, Wis.

Gags, the Green Bay Clown, as he's been christened on a Facebook fan page — and by the way, if the Visigoths sacked Rome again these days, there would be Facebook fan page for them — has appeared on the streets of an intersection at about 2 a.m.

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It somehow just seems right the last A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor will be heard tonight, on this weekend of flags, parades, and lemonade stands. The show was recorded last night at the Hollywood Bowl.

The first Prairie Home Companion was in 1974, and all of us who share this sliver on the radio spectrum know we wouldn't be in business if Garrison Keillor hadn't made a new thing called public radio truly sing.

Orlando has had a hell of a week. Few cities have endured such heartbreak over just a few days.

49 people were shot to death at Pulse nightclub. Lane Graves, a two-year-old boy, was dragged to his death by an alligator at a Disney resort. And Christina Grimmie, a 22 year-old singer, was shot to death at another nightspot — all within a week.

Each death was a tragedy, that struck in a sunny place where millions go to have fun.

The shooting death of Harambe, the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, after a 3-year-old boy fell into his cage at the Cincinnati Zoo, is a tragedy in all ways.

Harambe delighted zoogoers, and may have meant the boy no harm.

The little boy's parents say they are grateful their son survived and is doing well. But many people on social media platforms have attacked the mother as neglectful.

I flew back and forth to Chicago this week, and here were lots of passengers, myself included, who groused about the long, slow security lines: where schoolgirls have to kick off their pink running shoes, that can seem to take forever to unlace and re-lace; and convalescent senior citizens are made to limp out of their wheelchairs to walk through metal detectors and body scanners; and traveling salespeople who have to heft their bulky black cases onto conveyors, and shake their small, tired see-through bags of toiletries to show they're not carrying incendiary materials.

The United States of America got a national mammal this week. And it's not us human beings.

President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, which establishes the bison as the national mammal. This does not overthrow the bald eagle, who remains national symbol. But it does seem to put two animals on the same marquee.

Tens of millions of bison once thundered across North America, from the thick forests of Alaska to the tan prairies of Mexico. But by the late 1800s, just hundreds of North American bison were left alive.

What would you consider "the best selfie ever"?

A shot of yourself alongside the pope, the president, Angela Merkel, Lin Manuel Miranda or Steph Curry?

This week Ben Innes, a health and safety auditor from Leeds, Great Britain, used those words to send out a photo in which he posed with the man who hijacked his plane.

The hijacker has what looks like a suicide vest of explosives strapped to his chest. Ben Innes is grinning.