Patrick Marren

January 1, 1997

Post #654 – 19970101

Mr. P.:

As a fan of your NPR commentaries and writings, I would like to ask a favor of you and of NPR.

Several years ago, my father was driving me to O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Time was tight and I was making frequent reference to my watch as Noah Adams relayed the latest revolting developments from far-off lands. My father sat silently at the wheel, deftly changing lanes whenever ours threatened forward movement. All standard operating procedure.

Just as the logjam began to break, Noah or Robert said those magic words “…commentator Daniel Pinkwater.”

This particular commentary was the one in which you describe your father’s hospitality to any and all visitors, but especially to Uncle Boris. As the narrative proceeded through Chinese rabbis, to Uncle Boris’ vaguely nefarious activities, through salamis and loaves of bread, to “Sonny Boy in the Park with Squirrels,” my father, who played host to many a straggler during our chaotic rearing, began to giggle, then to snort, then to turn red, then purple; then, just when you referred to Uncle Boris and his wife as regarding themselves as “a Yiddish version of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,” he was consumed by a paroxysm of laughter so overwhelming that I thought he was going to have a stroke. In fact, we barely missed slamming into the rear end of a pick-up truck with tires the size of millstones and a bumper sticker reading, “I [Heart] MY ASSAULT RIFLE.”

Here is my request. In future, many accidents may be avoided (and flights not missed) if we, your audience, could have some idea when your commentaries are to be aired on “All Things Considered.” I am sure there is some pattern there, but I have not been astute enough to pick it up, and I want to be (1) near a radio, and (2) off the road, the next time a Boris-like episode is recounted by yourself.

Many thanks,

Patrick Marren (A Wandering Son of Lake View (the Neighborhood, Not the School))

Daniel replies:

No, there is no pattern. The commentaries aired on ATC are for the purpose of making the program fill up the time exactly. When thre is a hole of, say, 2 minutes 37 seconds, they look for a piece of that length. Sometimes they play music. Some think they should always play music. I will not tell you what I think because they pay me. So, if you want to hear my stuff, you have to listen to the whole two hours, OR you can get it at the NPR website as a RealAudio file! (I can't do that because when I have tried to download RealAudio, I get a prompt saying I don't have Octet-Stream or something of that kind--whatever it may be). Doesn't matter really, because I have no life and listen to the whole program daily.