Today on Word of Mouth, we delve into the consequences of solitary confinement. Then a trip to the Internet reveals that cyberspace is chock full of fakes and fails; Photoshopped images can quickly become viral and shared as authentic. But history is full of giant hoaxes, too, as we learn from Nate Dimeo of the Memory Palace Podcast. Then we hear about The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, which isn’t one of those Darwin Awards-style coffee table books. It’s a real government document that catalogs bribery, graft, and other infractions in the Department of Defense. Finally, NHPR's Sean Hurley visited the Jackson biathlon range - the only dedicated course in New Hampshire - to find out more about this unusual sport.
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While Russia celebrated its history and artistry at the spectacular opening to the Sochi games, protestors of Putin’s anti-gay propaganda laws were being carted off to jail. Today on Word of Mouth, a writer travels to Russia to learn about life for gay people trapped in the iron closet.
Also today, India’s luge champ, Mexico’s royal mariachi ski racer and a few other unlikely heroes to watch for at Sochi. Plus, the book awards chosen by critics who read everything. Listen to the full show here, and scroll down for links and more.
While looking for a photo to illustrate a Word of Mouth story on the history of skiing in N.H., I happened upon this gem on Flickr. The photo is of photographer Pam Brooks Crowley's father and his cross country teammates taken in Lisbon, New Hampshire in 1936.
This past weekend Concord played host to the first major pond hockey tournament of the season. The 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship is in its fourth year. But it's said that the nation's first "organized" pond hockey game was played at St. Paul's School in Concord--back in 1883. NHPR's Amanda Loder stopped by the event at White Park, and sends us this audio postcard.
In the words of author Stephen Amidon, “no other figure is the focus of so much passion, controversy, expectation, and disappointment…” regardless of whether it is football or soccer, figure-skating or hockey, watching the world’s top athletes borders on hypnotic… and sometimes stands as proof of our ability to exceed physical human limitations and become something like the gods. That’s the name of long-time sports-lover and novelist Stephen Amidon’s new cultural history of the athlete, detailing sport from the first Olympic Games, to the rise of Lebron James.
Despite lockouts, replacement referees, and a lawsuit to settle brain trauma-related lawsuits, America's passion for football remains in play. We continues our series Rethink 2014 with America's beloved pastime, football. We begin at the college level, where many professional football careers begin. Critics charge that that the danger and violence inherent to the game have no place in academic institutions. NPR's program Intelligence Squared U.S.
Watching football this weekend? Well, If you happen to step out of the living room to grab some guacamole and miss a pivotal play, don’t worry – you can bet the network will play it again (and again) in instant replay. But it wasn’t always so… This is the story of how a young and rash CBS producer named Tony Verna invented instant replay in 1963 against tough odds, and revolutionized how we watch sports forever. It’s told by freelance writer Anna Clark, who wrote about Tony Verna for pacific standard.
As part of its “30 for 30” series, ESPN recently released a short documentary detailing the escapades of perhaps the most prolific sports prankster of all-time, Barry Bremen. Between 1979 and 1986, Bremen was responsible for over twenty hoaxes in professional sports. In the documentary, Bremen along with a few former Kansas City Kings, remember the warm-up layup line at the NBA all-star game.
In recognition of Barry’s impressive history of ‘impostering,’ Bryan Curtis, staff writer for Grantland, compiled a list of memorable practical jokes played in the world of sports.
As the first snows fall, weekend warriors from all over New England will pack up the car, strap the skis to the roof and hit the slopes for a fairly expensive getaway. But in some places, skiing is a strategy for staying alive. Mark Jenkins, a contributing writer for National Geographic traveled to the northern most fringe of western China where skiing was invented many millennia ago. He spoke with the people who carry on the earliest skiing traditions, using the same resources and methods as their ancestors.
Go to Great Britain, turn on the TV, flip the channels around, and soon enough you’ll come across something like this...
"What a heartbreaker."
"There's your answer, Wade"
Phil Taylor, Against the darts"
Screaming fans were nowhere to be found at the 27th Annual Seacoast Open. But talk to throwers like Jeff Smith, who drove six hours from New Brunswick, Canada, to attend, and it seems like there’s no place they’d rather be.
"Every time I come down here, it's basically a reunion with 500 of my closest friends, so it's been great."
School decisions banning dodge ball and tag have re-ignited a broader debate on whether we are over-protecting kids. We discuss the need for letting go and letting children grow. But others say the world has changed, and parental involvement is needed today.
The 2014 winter Olympics begin on February seventh in Sochi, Russia. Until this week, talk about the games focused on worries that there might not be enough snow, and international criticism and threats to boycott the games because of Russia’s law banning what it called “homosexual propaganda.” On Monday, President Vladimir Putin reversed course and said that everyone will be welcome to Sochi. As to the snow, there are no certain answers.
Last night, those Red Sox beards came through once again, with the Sox taking a 3-2 lead over St. Louis in the World Series. There’s no telling what role the beards that first showed up during spring training have played in getting the hirsute Sox to the World Series, but Fenway park isn’t the only place where people turn to superstition to swing the odds in their favor. And as it turns out, superstition might play a role in success.
Mike Napoli’s three-run double in the first inning of last night’s World Series opener put the Red Sox on the path for an 8 to 1 drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. The cardinals committed three costly errors and lost star right fielder Carlos Beltran who injured himself running into Fenway’s unusually low right field wall -- while making a spectacular catch, that robbed David Ortiz of a grand slam. That is just one of the quirks of Fenway, the old-school ball park that throbbed with sox fans last night. It’s one of few remaining fields in the nation that isn’t named for a bank, or a drink. Fenway has a personality--and a history--today’s sox fans sit in the same spot where even more raucous fans sat in in 1912, when Fenway Park opened its doors.
Glenn Stout tells the story of the idiosyncratic park’s construction, christening and enduring charm in the book “Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ball Park, A Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year”. We spoke to him last year when the book came out...and pulled it from the archives today…a great day to celebrate Fenway Park .
Forty-eight years ago writer George Plimpton infiltrated pro-football when he joined the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback. Plimpton chronicled the experience in his 1965 book Paper Lion. Writer Stefan Fatsis followed in Plimpton’s cleated footsteps when he wrangled his way into the Denver Bronco’s training camp as place kicker in 2008. I spoke with Stefan in 2010 about his short but entertaining tenure in the NFL and his book about the experience called A Few Seconds of Panic.
Stefan Fatsis is a sports writer, a frequent contributor on NPR’s all things considered and a panelist on Slate’s sports podcast, “Hang Up and Listen.”
The Red Sox squeaked by the Tigers last night in Detroit, putting them one game closer to the World Series. Although Boston and Detroit are two of the oldest franchises in Major League Baseball, this is the first time they’ve faced each other in the playoffs. That could be due to the post season absence of one team Sox fans – and apparently the rest of the country -- love to hate… the New York Yankees. …this is only the second season in 19 years that the Bronx Bombers failed to make the playoffs. What are baseball fans today without their favorite targets of scorn? Brian Costa can help. He’s national baseball writer for the Wall Street Journal and creator of the “Major League Baseball Hate-Ability Index” – a tool for identifying which team to root against during this year’s baseball playoffs and the World Series
Banish the bridge game, and shove off the shuffleboard… competitive table tennis for seniors is the subject of the new film “Ping Pong”, which airs tonight on PBS’s POV series.
The film shows the arch rivalries and individual motivations of the traditional sports drama, ramped up by the presence of cancer, dementia, and the physical deterioration at the end of life. The film’s producer is Anson Hartford, and he joins us to talk about it.
Our exploration of Aesthletics reminded us of some of our other favorite bizarre sports. From the safe, if not always tame, World Beard and Moustache Competition to the surprisingly dangerous Outhouse Races, strange sports are everywhere. These are not the weirdest sports, by far, but they top our list as most memorable and well organized.
You’ve heard of whiffle-ball… how about whiffle-hurling? Class-conscious kickball? Imaginary soccer? These absurd-sounding games are among the growing number of highly conceptualized art-sports invented by artists and shown on YouTube, and other online video sites. Brooklyn-based artist Tom Russotti is founder of the Institute for Aesthletics… yes, that’s athletics and aesthetics rolled into one. The institute combines sports, participatory art and conceptual social activities. Tom’s games have been invented, played, performed, and experimented with at museums, schools, and arts organizations all over the world.
The NFL preseason kicks off thisSunday in Canton, Ohio, when the Cowboys take on the dolphins at the annual hall of fame game. The game gives fans the first opportunity in months to get together, warm up the couch, and bust out the beer and snacks. Sabra hummus is making a play to sit alongside chicken wings, nachos and salsa in the billion-plus dollar football food market. And it’s got a big backer. Sabra hummus is now the official dip of the NFL.
I was deep in western New York for the July fourth holiday. We had loads of fun and the weather was mostly great. The one sour note was not being able to find Wimbledon on the available television channels…we searched for Wimbledon and found live coverage of the Tour de France. In addition to having no interest in watching the race, I realized that I had no idea how to watch the Tour de France. I’m not alone, apparently because each year when the spotlight turns again to spandex, millions of Americans shrug and say “meh!”
Our favorite content of the week, neatly packaged for your audio pleasure. On this show, the secret science behind sports fan-dom, dogs audition for a starring role in a New Hampshire play, Cryonics is (maybe) reborn, New Hampshire prospectors pan for gold, and Baz Lurhmann talks about a new album of 20's-style jazz covers of songs by Beyonce, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and other pop stars.
I’m am not qualified to make a list of the Top 5 most memorable sports failures, which is why I asked Eric Simons to help me create a list of moments he felt fit the bill. To say that he waffled about what moments to include is an understatement; sports fans are notoriously opinionated when it comes to moments that define heartbreak. I took his suggestions and then sprinkled in a few that I grew up hearing about. Without further ado I present to you: “5 Moments in Sports That Will (Maybe) Break Your Heart”. We encourage you to disagree and submit your own.
If you’re a New England sports fan of a certain age, chances are you can describe exactly what happened during game 6 of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner missed a roller at first.
That error allowed the Mets a winning run and further cemented the “Curse of the Bambino” in the minds of Red Sox fans…many of those same fans still get weepy when thinking of 2004 – when the Sox finally reversed the curse and won the World Series.
Along with the thrill comes the agony …just ask any Bruins fan who watched Boston’s 2 - 1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals squandered by two Blackhawk goals in the last 76 seconds of the game.
We spoke to science writer and Radiolab contributor Eric Simons before the Bruins crushing defeat. Eric’s latest book “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” is his attempt to figure out the science and psychology of sports fans…and it begins with a play-by-play of heartbreak.
Battle of the Nations is an international event held annually since 2009 – this year in the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes in the south of France. About five-hundred men from twenty-two countries competed in what is part historic re-enactment, and part full contact sport. Wearing full medieval armor and using blunted period weaponry, participants hack, slash, and wrestle opponents to the ground in events ranging from one-on-on, to dueling groups of twenty-one each. Our next guest, Jaye Brooks was there – he’s executive officer for team USA and the Armored Combat League, and he came in at 10th place in the one-on-one competition.