What images first come to mind when you hear the word “circus.” According to author Duncan Wall, the ring master in a red jacket and riding boots is becoming a thing of the past. This hour on Focus, we talk with Wall about his new book “The Ordinary Acrobat” and learn about the movement to empower circus as an art form.
Duncan Wall fell in love with circus at the age of 23 when he was studying abroad in France, and he’s never looked back. This hour on Focus, guest host Lindsey Moon talks with Wall about what he calls “new circus” and what makes it so magical. He tells us about his first time flying trapeze – and how those teaching him forgot to strap him into the safety harness, what he learned in circus school and about the movement to empower the circus arts in the US. We also talk with him about circus history and why the image of a lion tamer and a ring leader with a red jacket have been so hard to shed - an image he says is challenging as he tries to advance the contemporary circus movement.
Read an excerpt from Duncan's book.
This hour on Focus, we talked about sex trafficking and tourism in Cambodia and how one woman originally from Urbana is working to help keep girls with their families and out of brothels in South East Asia. Then, we learned about Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot on her way home from school for advocating that all children should be able to attend school.
Bhavia Wagner had traveled lots of places and had seen lots of eye opening things in third world countries, but when she first arrived in Cambodia, she says words can’t quite describe how what she saw made her feel. For the first half of this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Wagner about her efforts to empower young girls and women in Cambodia with her non-profit organization “Friendship with Cambodia.” Wagner is originally from Urbana and will be hosting a screening of the documentary “Half the Sky” April 20th at Friends Meetinghouse in Urbana.
Then in the second half of the hour, we’ll talk with Rangita de Silva de Alwis.
Last October, Malala Yousafzai was shot in Pakistan on her way home from school for her beliefs that all children should be able to go to school. Shortly after the incident, the United Nations issued a petition making it a goal that all children have access to education by 2015. During the second half of this hour on Focus, we’ll talk about access to education after the Arab Spring with Rangita de Silva de Alwis. She will be giving a lecture at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign on April 16 entitled “Malala: Access to a Girl’s Education."
If a person, multiplying two numbers together once every second, tried to do as many multiplications as the new UIUC’s super computer Blue Waters can do in a second, it would take them about 300 million years. This hour on Focus we talked about the technology and the problems Blue Waters is trying to solve.
Simply explained, Blue Waters is a very big, very fast computer. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Bill Gropp who is Director of the Parallel Computing Institute and Deputy Director for Research at the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He’ll tell us what makes Blue Waters so powerful, why the technology is worth the investment and what problems researchers hope to solve with one of the world’s largest super computers.
Do you have fond memories of Roger Ebert? What do you think of when you hear “circus?” Do you have questions about the UIUC’s new super computer Blue Waters? Find out more about what’s coming up next week on Focus and join our conversation.
Coming up next week on Focus, we’re remembering Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, screenwriter and journalist Roger Ebert, talking about super computers and learning about how the circus is very serious business in other parts of the world. Find out more and our conversation!
What color is your thumb…green or black? This hour on Focus, we talked with Eduardo Torrealba who has been working on a project to help you if you answered “black” and Sandy Mason, UI extension horticulture expert.
Over and underwatering plants is one of the key reasons why those of you who answered “black” are having trouble keeping your plants alive. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Eduardo Torrealba. He’s the CEO of Oso Technologies, a new company formed in Urbana. He and his colleagues have developed a new product called Plantlink that’s designed to help novice gardeners help their plants thrive and conserve water. Sandy Mason, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Expert, will also be here to answer questions about your lawn and garden.
Learn more about Plantlink:
What is it about James Bond? Why did the character spark such a following and why does the character endure? This hour on Focus, we talked about Bond, his cars and his legacy.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale” that introduced the world to the now infamous mystery man, James Bond. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Michael VanBlaricum, a UIUC alumnus and founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, about Bond’s legacy. John Cork, co-author of the book "James Bond: The Legacy" and a documentary film maker and writer known for his knowledge of the character, also joins us.
Are you reading a book right now that you can’t put down? This hour, host Jim Meadows talks with NPR’s Guy Raz about NPR’s Three Minute Fiction contest. Then we talk about spring and summer reading recommendations.
Leave a message after the beep… Make it 600 words or less. That’s the prompt NPR’s Three Minute Fiction gave listeners for Round 10 of their popular flash fiction writing contest. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Guy Raz, former host of Weekend All Things Considered and current host of the TED Radio Hour. Three Minute Fiction is Raz’s brainchild, and during the first half of this show, he tells us how surprised he is by the continued popularity of the contest and what his favorite stories are.
Then during the second half of the hour, we’ll talk with Kelly Strom. She manages adult fiction at the Champaign Public Library and will tell us more about new fiction titles for this spring.
Last night, “The House I Live In” aired on WILL-TV. Today on Focus, we’ll talk with the writer, director and producer for the film Eugene Jarecki about the film and the statements it makes about the War on Drugs. After the show, don’t miss a free, online screening of the film with a discussion to follow!
This hour on focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Eugene Jarecki, writer, producer and director for the documentary “The House I Live In.” Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, “The House I Live In” is filmed in more than 20 states and captures heart-wrenching stories from those on the front lines of the U.S.’s war on drugs — from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge — and offers a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of America’s longest war.
Didn’t get enough during the show today? Maybe you haven’t seen the film? Join us at 1 p.m. this afternoon for an online screening of “The House I Live In” with a discussion to follow. Watch the film and join our continued conversation after the show today here.
Watch a preview of the film:
The premier for the 6th season of MadMen was last night on AMC. Are you a fan of the show? Love it? Hate it? This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talked with three UIUC professors who have just published the book “Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960’s.”
The premier for the 6th season of MadMen was last night on AMC. Set in the 1960’s in New York, the television drama follows the lives of advertising executives on Madison Avenue. Some have criticized the show for its portrayal of race and gender politics, while those same elements of the show have drawn critical acclaim from others. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Robert Rushing, Lilya Kaganovsky and Lauren Goodlad of the UIUC about the show and their book “MadMen, Mad World: Sex, Politics Style and the 1960’s.”
Are you a fan of AMC’s “MadMen”? Who do you think is the best James Bond? Is it time for the US to end the war on drugs? Find out more about what’s coming up next week on Focus and join our conversation.
Coming up next week on Focus, we’ve got a little something for everybody – from James Bond to gardening, we welcome you to join our conversation!
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