American Wolf Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR Radio - Melbourne, Fla

December 13, 2017

If you have visited Yellowstone Park you understand its natural beauty and majesty. Spanning just under 3,500 square miles, Yellowstone is mainly situated in Wyoming, though parts stretch into Montana and Idaho as well. “Old Faithful” erupts like clockwork every single day, but there are also hundreds of smaller geysers and pastel hot pots bubbling and gurgling under a blanket of steam.AmericanWolf Blakeslee

But behind all that spellbinding scenery is the fierce political battle over wolves inhabiting the park. In 1995 thirty-one wolves were trucked into Yellowstone from Canada, after being hunted and cleared from the park nearly a century ago. Today, their numbers have grown to 10 packs (several hundred wolves) vying for control of the stunningly beautiful Lamar Valley. In recent years threats from hunters and trappers has intensified, pitting ranchers against conservationists and prompting some states to permit limited wolf hunting again at certain times. The wolf reintroduction has ignited a battle of the very soul of the West.

These forces collide in the stellar new book American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West ($28, Crown) , a riveting multigenerational saga of hardship and triumph that tells a larger story about the ongoing cultural clash in the West—between those fighting for a vanishing way of life and those committed to restoring one of the country’s most iconic landscapes. More than four million people visit Yellowstone annually, and wolves are one of the main attractions.

With novelistic detail, author Nate Blakeslee tells the gripping story of one of these wolves, O-Six, a charismatic alpha female named for the year of her birth. The matriarch of the Lamar Valley, O-Six is uncommonly powerful, with gray fur and faint black ovals around each eye. she is a kind and merciful leader, a fiercely intelligent fighter, and a doting mother. Beloved by wolf watchers, O-Six becomes something of a social media star, with followers around the world. Still, the moment O-Six lopes on to stage, you get the uneasy feeling her fate is tied to the political strife around her.

Biography: Leonardo da Vinci Print E-mail

WFIT (NPR Radio, Melbourne, FL)

November 2017

Simply put: he is history’s most creative genius.DaVinci Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci was a passionate and brilliant artist. He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper, and Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, Leonardo was more a man of science and technology. With a obsessive way of examining life, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry.

A biographer of other big thinkers-- the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin-- Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo (1452-1519) to life in this lavish and masterful new biography.

Isaacson takes the reader backstage behind this legend-- a legend very much touted by Leonardo himself-- and conveys the man as "as a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical.”

It's a Jungle Out There! Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR Radio - Melbourne, FL)

November 2017

You never know what kind of offer will turn up in an email. For Christine Hobart, executor director of McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, one she received earlier this year suggested a possible exhibit for featuring welded scrap metal sculptures of African animals.McKee 1

After thinking about the offer, Hobart agreed to host the playful exhibition featuring 24 beautiful sculptures hand-crafted specifically for McKee that opened Nov. 4. Nestled among the towering palm trees is a 16-foot giraffe foraging silently on the leaves high above in the jungle canopy. Two playful and mischievous young elephants prove that big hearts come in small packages, while the matriarch elephant is nearby watching them closely.

Back in the day animals roamed the 80 acres of tropical hammock and engaged with visitors wandering the lush jungle trails. It was one of the most popular pre-Disney Florida attraction.

"It really did seem like a perfect fit for us because of our history,” Hobart says. "Back then there was an elephant, monkeys, two chimpanzees and even a bear. It drew thousands of visitors each year until it closed in 1976."

Hank Williams: Lost Highway Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR Radio, Melbourne, FL)

October 27, 2017

More than 60 years after his death at age of 29, Hank Williams still holds a magical power today. Dubbed the "Hillbilly Shakespeare" for the striking imagery of his songs, Williams successfully fused “hillbilly” style with Southern blues, changing the landscape of American popular music forever.Hank 1

Vero Beach's Riverside Theatre kicked off its 44th season with the powerhouse show Hank Williams: Lost Highway at the Stark Stage that runs through November 12. Written by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik, the toe-tapping musical is a humorous and heartfelt tribute, revealing an intimate portrait of the passionate and troubled man behind the music.

Riverside is hoping to build on their heady success achieved last October with "Ring of Fire" that told the story of Johnny Cash's life. This bio musical follows Williams from his roots in Alabama to his meteoric rise to stardom on the stage of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry. He had 35 top 10 country singles, most of them in a five-year span between 1947 and 1952. Eleven reached the top spot, including timeless classics such as “Move It On Over,” “Jambalaya,” “Your Cheatin' Heart,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” "I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”

The production is co-directed by David and Sherry Lutken with David also serving as Musical Director. The first act unfolds concert style, as we see Hank and his crack band of sidemen work their way up from their earliest performances on the “Louisiana Hayride" to their resounding success at the famed Grand Ole Opry and all the stops along the way.

Endurance Print E-mail

WFIT (NPR Radio, Melbourne, FL)

October 24, 2017

Scott Kelly needs his space. No, not that kind of space. He is talking how much he misses outer space.Endurance ScottKelly

The veteran NASA astronaut set the record (340 days) for the single longest mission by an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He embarked on a historic mission in 2015 — blasting into orbit to begin his mission to help study the effects of long-term space flight on the human body. Kelly worked on more than 400 scientific studies during his time on the ISS and conducted three spacewalks before returning to Earth in March 2016.

His new book, entitled "Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery," reflects on his time with NASA and his famous mission. Scott will appear at The Saint Edward’s School Waxlax Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, November, 1 at 7 p.m. when he takes the stage for a free live Q&A session followed by a book signing. The event has been organized by the Vero Beach Book Center.

The book is a candid account of his remarkable voyage and of the journeys off the planet that preceded it as well as his colorful formative years. Kelly hopes the experiences he describes in "Endurance" can serve a similar purpose for readers. He viewed his time at the ISS as a mission of endurance, not only in space, but from the time he was a kid when he struggled in school.


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