Recently in Aha Moments

Opening Day Inspiration: Dennis Quaid Changed My Life

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Rookie is bigger than baseball. Hear the true story of a thespian's midlife turnaround, inspired by the springtime classic.


Aha Moment: Shirley Valentine’s Liberating Fling

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sarah Longley moved to the US from Britain as a young teenager and met her husband at age 23. Soon after they married, she realized the relationship was not going to work, but was reluctant to end it. “I don’t think either of us married for the right reasons but we both tried to stick it through,” she remembers ...

Comments [2]

Carl Zimmer on Giant Sandworms

Friday, January 24, 2014

The science writer Carl Zimmer was 10 years old when his family moved to rural New Jersey. He quickly made a new friend whose father was the prolific science fiction illustrator John Schoenherr. Zimmer hadn’t read Dune, or seen Schoenherr’s unforgettable illustrations of sandworms. ...

Slideshow: Jack Schoenherr’s paintings

Comments [2]

Aha Moment: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Friday, January 17, 2014

Maureen Sestito listens to the show on WHYY from Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Years ago, she was working as a nurse when a colleague suddenly died of a brain tumor — like Maureen, she was in her early thirties, with kids. “I thought, that could be me. Have I really done what I wanted to do?” ...

Comments [2]

Aha Moment: The Dream Syndicate

Friday, January 03, 2014

For 20 years, Sam Coomes has led the band Quasi along with the drummer Janet Weiss, carrying the torch for a punk music that’s relevant, funny, and hard-hitting well into middle age. Coomes was born in Texas and moved with his family to southern California, which is where he found his calling ...


Aha Moment: Kenneth Goldsmith & John Cage

Friday, August 09, 2013

Kenneth Goldsmith trained as a visual artist at the Rhode Island School of Design.  In the 1980s, his work became wildly popular with collectors and was shown at some of the best galleries in New York City. “What I had become was a businessman,” he says. “And I did this so I wouldn’t ...

Comments [3]

Aha Moment: Maurice

Friday, May 24, 2013

Growing up in the 1970s and '80s, Brian Sloan remembers two types of gay characters in TV and movies: flamboyant decorators, and victims of AIDS. “There was no in-between. And there was no romance involved for gay characters either.” Sloan was in college when he saw Maurice ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: Mary Karr's "Entering the Kingdom"

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ten years ago, Beth Greenspan put a poem in her wallet that she’s carried ever since. Her son was just on the verge of adolescence, and she was wistful. “I noticed that his wrists were starting to get thicker, his hands were starting to look bigger. His hand was almost the size of my own ...

Comments [9]

Aha Moment: Winslow Homer

Friday, March 22, 2013

Steve Mumford traveled to Iraq several times to chronicle the war as a painter and illustrator. He was riding in a tank during a mission in Baquba when “the vehicle I was in was hit with two rocket-propelled grenades. Things like that would sometimes happen and they were not, as it turned out ...

Slideshow: Illustrating War

Comments [3]

Aha Moment: Sandra Bernhard

Friday, March 01, 2013

Sandra Bernhard was only eight when she saw a touring production of Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing. “Right from the get-go," she remembers, "I assumed I should be a part of the cast. ‘Why am I not on stage here, playing at least one of the supporting roles?’” Sitting there ...

Video: Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! (1979)

Comments [4]

Aha Moment: Gentleman's Agreement

Friday, February 22, 2013

Listener Susan Evans grew up in rural Louisiana during the 1950s and '60s. Her first year of high school was also the first year of federally enforced integration in her town — and that did not sit well with her white parents. Susan was never comfortable with her family’s casual racism ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: La Forza del Destino

Friday, January 25, 2013

As a kid, Steve Call struggled with school. “At the end of each school year, my mother would go and beg the teacher to pass me on to the next grade,” he remembers, “because I never did learn to read in elementary school.” Call had dyslexia, and although he had ...

Comments [5]

Aha Moment: Finding Nemo

Friday, January 04, 2013

Kiki Kienstra had a good job teaching kindergarten, a nice apartment, and a community of friends. “I didn’t have a big need for change,” she remembers. “You know, everything was fine, so why rock the boat?” One day, on a whim, she saw Finding Nemo, a Pixar movie about a clownfish ...


Aha Moment: Jon Ronson on Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, December 07, 2012

Kurt Vonnegut is a serious writer who holds a special place in the hearts of teenagers. Jon Ronson got hooked on Vonnegut when he was 15. For his long train rides from Cardiff, Wales, to look at colleges, Ronson packed a bag with Vonnegut’s novels, including Slaughterhouse Five ...

Comments [13]

Aha Moment: Lee Ann Womack

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mary Miller fell in love with a man who made his fortune flipping houses.  When the relationship ended, Mary wasn’t just heartbroken — she wanted to beat him at his own game.On the way to the bank to sign a $400,000 loan, Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” came ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: This Side of Paradise

Friday, September 28, 2012

Growing up in Brooklyn, Sandra Sherman’s view of the world was limited. “I was supposed to go to Brooklyn College, if I went to college at all, stay at home, and become a high-school teacher just like my parents,” she remembers. Then one day she picked up This Side of Paradise ...

Comments [1]

Aha Moment: e.e. cummings

Friday, September 14, 2012

As a child Quang Bao fled Vietnam and lived in a refugee camp with his family. They eventually settled in Sugarland, Texas. He was in high school — a mediocre student, uninterested in literature, and unready to accept being gay — when he was given an e.e. cummings’ poem ...

Comments [3]

Aha Moment: Hamlet

Friday, September 07, 2012

A listener named Jeff House told us about his revelation experience with Hamlet. As a teenager he watched the Christopher Plummer film on TV with his big sister, who was enthralled; House was nonplussed. “The language didn’t make sense,” he remembers. The hero was ...

Comments [5]

Aha Moment: Earl "Fatha" Hines

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seth Barkan’s father was a classical cellist who urged his son to follow in his footsteps. Barkan studied classical piano for years, but it never quite suited him. Then one day, accompanying his mother to Costco, he returned with a history of jazz on CD. When he heard the stride pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines ...


Aha Moment: Diane Arbus

Friday, August 17, 2012

Neil Selkirk is an accomplished portrait photographer.  He began his career in London during the 60s, when being a magazine photographer meant wild parties, fancy cars, and beautiful girls.  During a shoot assisting Richard Avedon, he encountered a photograph: A Family One Evening in a Nudist Camp, Pennsylvania, 1965.  Selkirk was shocked ...

Comments [1]