Chattering Class


Yance Ford Turns a Personal Lens on Grief and Social Injustice in ‘Strong Island’

In 1992, Yance's Ford's brother William was killed. Then, 10 years ago, Yance started making a documentary about the murder and why a grand jury decided the case would never go to trial. That film, titled "Strong Island," is more of a personal movie than a piece of journalism. Yance explains why he features his hands prominently while showing the personal items on screen, how talking about the film gave him a sense of relief, and more.


Documentarian Theo Anthony Finds the Parallels Between Rats and Racism

"Rat Film" takes Baltimore's longstanding rat control problem as a metaphor for other social ills, from institutional racism to economic inequality. It's an impressionistic, vaguely creepy mix of cinema verite and art film -- and it's earned its creator, Theo Anthony, comparisons to filmmakers like Werner Herzog. Hear Rico talk with Theo about how he got interested in rats, what he learned about what people's relationship to rats can reveal about themselves, and more.


Teju Cole Examines Pairing Pictures and Prose in ‘Blind Spot’

Teju Cole is a true polymath. His novel, 'Open City,' won the PEN/Hemingway award. And he writes about photography in a column for The New York Times Magazine, which makes sense since he also exhibits his own photography around the world. His new book, 'Blind Spot,' combines all these pursuits into one publication. talks with Brendan about what he learned about himself in the process.


’30 for 30′ Team Tease a Tale of a Gambler Scorned

ESPN recently launched a sports podcast called "30 for 30," based on their celebrated documentary series of the same name. Each episode is dedicated to a different sports story. Brendan sat down with editor Jody Avirgan and producer Rose Eveleth to talk about an upcoming episode featuring an unassuming woman who took sweet revenge on casinos by utilizing the decorative patterns on the back of cards to her advantage.


Piet Mondrian: Genius Modernist and Party Animal

The Hague's Gemeentemuseum has the world's largest collection of paintings by modernist master Piet Mondrian — and this month, for the first time ever, they put them all on display. Listen as Rico visits the museum and gets schooled on the life and work of the surprisingly hard-partying artist.


Who Was Gertrude Bell? ‘Letters from Baghdad’ Highlights the Explorer’s Unsung Legacy

Archaeologist and diplomat T. E. Lawrence's involvement in the Middle East during World War I was legendary, but another person of equal influence has kind of been forgotten in the history books (and on-screen). Her name was Gertrude Bell, and the directors behind a new documentary called "Letters From Baghdad" explain why she is the most important explorer you've never heard of.


Anne Lamott Tells Us How to Be Merciful to Ourselves

Anne Lamott's spunky, soul-bearing non-fiction has made her a best-selling author many times over. Her books sometimes investigate spiritual themes and sometimes they're about very human triumphs and tribulations, like overcoming alcoholism or raising a son as a single mother. In her new book, she celebrates a virtue that seems to be in short supply these days: mercy.


Why Rorschach’s Inkblots Are Still the Best Blots Around

Our topic for Chattering Class this week: Psychology's infamous Rorschach test. And our teacher is author Damion Searls. His new book, "The Inkblots," is all about Hermann Rorschach, an artistically-inclined Swiss psychiatrist who in the 1910s learned he could diagnose patients just by asking them to describe what they saw in abstract blots on paper. He talks with Rico about Hermann's history and what made the Rorschach's blots so effective and unique.