Episode #308

Jack Handey, Backpacks, Tricks of the Trade

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Saturday, February 23, 2002

We unlock some tricks of the artistic trade — the secret mechanisms that help creative people create. Kurt Andersen and writer Lawrence Weschler talk about how the Old Masters may have used lenses and mirrors to revolutionize painting. Comedy writer Jack Handey shows that some of the best tricks give themselves away. And on a Grammy-nominated album the Eos Orchestra rediscovers Aaron Copland film scores which had been moldering in a Library of Congress basement.


Lawrence Weschler

Commentary: Hypocrisy Exposed

Kurt examines the contradictions in Rupert Murdoch's media empire.


Design for the Real World: Backpacks

Writer Akiko Busch watches her kid's baggage evolve toward high style along with the rest of their accessories.


Lawrence Weschler on Tricks of the Trade

Kurt Andersen and writer Lawrence Weschler talk about the sometimes-secret techniques that make art appealing. 

Weschler is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, and the author of many books, including Boggs: A Comedy of ValuesCalamity of Exiles, and Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder. He is also director of the New York Institute of the ...



Orchestrators of musical theater are an imaginative and meticulous bunch, handling what a Broadway composer often does not. They create the mood of the arrangements and the way instruments play under and around and beyond the singers‘ lines.


The Power of Nature

You may remember some of Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts” on Saturday Night Live. We asked the comedy writer to demonstrate a reliable trick from his profession. 


Wah Wah

For decades a rock star would never be far from a wah wah pedal. The wah, as it’s called, is a little smaller than your foot, and it does a simple thing, very well. The story behind how the tiny wah changed popular music.


Celluloid Copland

Celluloid Copland, performed by the Eos Orchestra, is nominated for Best Crossover Classical Album at next Wednesday's Grammy Awards. The album is made up of Aaron Copland film scores recently resurrected from the bowels of the Library of Congress. Eos Orchestra conductor Jonathan Sheffer talks to Kurt Andersen about The ...