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July 16, 2010

At last, a moment of clarity. For the first time in nearly three months, a ruptured BP wellhead is no longer spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

Shuck value. The oyster is his world -- but since the spill, a New Orleans shucker has found the gelatinous bivalves a tougher sell than usual.

Crimes and Ms. demeanours. A wave of indignation, when the Vatican declares the ordination of women to be worthy of excommunication.

What a couple of knobs. The Etch-A-Sketch celebrates fifty years of children trying to draw round things using only right angles.

Clearing a bunch of frogs from our throats. A story about the lengths amphibians can leap reminds us of a tall tale about an amphibian that ends up not leaping at all.

And...a fat worse than death. British sewer flushers are paid for lipid service -- when they start shovelling out a thousand tonnes of putrid fat from under London's Leicester Square .

As It Happens, the Friday edition. Radio that knows the lard moves in mysterious ways.


JUL 16, 2010 - As It Happens
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BP SPILL: CONGRESSMAN Duration: 00:07:32

When As It Happens last spoke with Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon, it was June 3rd, forty-five days into the BP oil spill. At the time, no one knew we were only half-way along. It would be another forty long days, and hundreds of thousands more barrels of crude, before the oil finally stopped gushing into the Gulf.

Earlier today, As It Happens called Congressman Melancon back to see how he and his district along the Louisiana coast are taking the good news.


OYSTER SHUCKER Duration: 00:06:12

Even before the BP spill, it was hard enough convincing people who hadn't eaten raw oysters to give them a try -- mostly because they look more like something that's come out of your throat than something that ought to go down it. So after the spill, with the prospect of oil-contaminated seafood, there was that much more convincing to do. Which is why the more respectable oyster houses in New Orleans have been so dependent on people like Keith Chancely.

Mr. Chancely is the senior shucker at Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar. We reached him at Felix's in New Orleans.


AND IF VENICE IS SINKING Duration: 00:00:15

Album:FAITHLIFT

Label:WEA, 000015

Persons/Roles:
GEOFFREY KELLY - COMPOSER
JOHN MANN - COMPOSER
SPIRIT OF THE WEST - POP GROUP
MICHAEL PHILLIP WOJEWODA - PRODUCER

FTR: HOME INVASION Duration: 00:02:37

"Feisty" would be a good word to describe Helen Doderai.

The seventy-one-year-old lives on her own on a farm in south central Saskatchewan. Early Wednesday morning, Ms. Doderai was awakened, and was then robbed and beaten by three people - two men and a woman. They also cut her phone lines and tried to steal her car.

They left her bruised and a little weary, but yesterday Helen Doderai told her story to CBC Television in Saskatchwan.

Here's her account of the attack, for the record.


REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, FILM MUSIC/DREAMS Duration: 00:00:16

Album:REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, SOUNDTRACK

Label:NONESUCH, 000016

Persons/Roles:
CLINT MANSELL - COMPOSER
DAVID HARRINGTON - PRODUCER
KRONOS QUARTET - STRING QUARTET

ETCH-A-SKETCH TURNS 50 Duration: 00:06:52

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I had an Etch-a-Sketch. I tried to draw a unicorn with it. It was for my sister. It was. Anyway, then I realized that my unicorn looked more like a pile of mashed potatoes with a candle stuck in it. So I threw in a corner, beside my tangled Slinky and a bowl of dead sea monkeys. And there it remains to this day.

Chances are, you did the same kind of thing when you were young, because the Etch-a-Sketch turns fifty this week. That's a lot of bad -- and thankfully, temporary -- art.

But Jeff Gagliardi is not like you and me. He never had an Etch-a-Sketch when he was growing up. And yet he went on to become a professional Etch-a-Sketch artist. His work has even been displayed in several museums.

We reached Jeff Gagliardi in Lyons, Colorado.


SAMUDRA Duration: 00:00:16

Album:ALCHEMY/TASA

Label:CUSTOM, TASA004

Persons/Roles:
RAVI NAIMPALLY - COMPOSER
CHRIS GARTNER - PRODUCER
RAVI NAIMPALLY - PRODUCER
TASA - FOLK GROUP

DA: LEICESTER SQUARE FAT Duration: 00:02:30

Dateline: London, England.In the non-classic 1984 horror movie "C.H.U.D."-- pronounced "chud" -- this happens:On the off-chance you haven't seen "C.H.U.D.", I'll describe that opening scene. A woman is walking her small white dog. She drops her purse near a manhole. She bends to pick it up. The manhole cover bursts open, and the kind of hand you would expect to emerge from a sewer grabs her ankle. She screams. Lame synthesizer music plays. The manhole cover is replaced.

"C.H.U.D." stands for "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers".

As you might expect, these creatures were once human, until radioactive waste turned them into hungry mutants with lousy real-estate sense.

And you wouldn't want to be dragged into a manhole by one: the last thing you would see would be a ravenous freak with glowing, asymmetrical eyes, set in a face that's a cross between a Chihuahua and a large, wet prune.

But compared to what workers flushing the sewers under London's Leicester Square are experiencing, C.H.U.D.s are nothing.

Thames Water, the utility responsible for the water supply and waste water treatment in the Greater London Area, has announced that it will be removing a thousand tonnes of rancid, stinking fat from the huge waste pipes under Leicester Square.

The utility's team of flushers -- each of whom will be wearing a breathing apparatus and what looks like a haz-mat suit -- will be digging the fat out with shovels, and then spraying the sewer down with powerful jets, and then crying and crying. On the first day of the project -- the biggest sewer clean-up of its kind ever -- they removed enough lard to fill nine double-decker buses. And they had to dig through a four-foot wall of putrid goo just to gain access to the sewers in the first place.

Evidently, this is because British people have been heedlessly dumping the by-products of their fry-ups down the loo or sink en masse. Thames Water -- and, for that matter, whomever deals with your waste pipes -- is urging everyone to knock that off, for the sake of both the sewers and their sanity. Because the way things are going now, a C.H.U.D. would actually be a refreshing change.


CLOSING FRIDAY Duration: 00:00:30

And that's enough chewing the fat for now. We're going to take a break so you can listen to the news -- but we'll be back with more As It Happens...and these stories.

Double-X-communication. When the Catholic Church declares the ordination of women a crime as grave as sexual abuse, female clerics are disgusted.

The Twain pulls into this station. We leap from a current study of jumping frogs to a somewhat less current study by Mark Twain -- of a frog that does not jump, as hard as it tries.

Stay tuned. I'm CH.

And I'm HM.


RETURN BILLS Duration: 00:00:20



VATICAN LAW: WOMEN REAX Duration: 00:05:40

Out of the fire and into the frying pan.

Yesterday, the Vatican announced new laws addressing the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. But while trying to douse the flames of one scandal, they ignited another controversial topic: women in the church.

The same document that defines pedophilia as a "grave crime," also classifies the ordination of women as priests as a "grave crime". Both are now among the most serious violations against the church, to be punished with excommunication.

Pat Brown is with the group Catholic Women's Ordination. We reached her in Leeds, England.


HURT ME SO Duration: 00:00:19

Album:DIPLOMATS OF SOLID SOUND FEATURING THE DIPLOMETTES

Label:PRAVDA

Persons/Roles:
DIPLOMATS OF SOLID SOUND - COMPOSER
DIPLOMATS OF SOLID SOUND - POP GROUP

FTR: FROG-JUMPING CONTEST Duration: 00:16:50

Almost a hundred and fifty years ago, they enthralled a certain writer with a distinctive mustache -- who had the good fortune to publish his very first story in their honour. And, to this day, they enthrall thousands of people from all over central parts of California, and the world beyond, even.

But now, the celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County have captured the imagination of a most strange group of fellows, from Rhode Island, called herp-ehh-toll-oh-gists.

These herpetologists, seems, love to look at frogs. Real close-like.

They stick their noses at their legs, their backs, their feet, an' even their warts. No doubt, if they get the chance, they cut 'em open to look at their innards, tho' that's something I can't sanction, being sanctimoniously opposed, as I am, to vivisection.

Now, the best recorded distance ever "officially" jumped by an American Bullfrog -- that's the breed favoured by those folks competing at the Calaveras County Fair and Frog-Jumping Jubilee -- is four feet, four inches. And that, those scientists figure, is about as far as a frog could possibly hop, given all that analysis of the frogs' legs -- and the innards, no doubt -- along with their knowledge of physics and frog bio-mechanics and all.

But the folks at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee figure that's a lowball, seeing as their frogs, who jump three times in a row at the competition, can cover twenty-one feet in their triple-hops, which, by my mathematical reckoning, means an average jump of seven feet. Not four feet, three inches.

So to determine whether the frogs are jumping that far for real, or just making what you might call a leap of faith, these herpetologists set up some pretty fancy cameras at this year's Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee.

An' with those cameras, they measured those frogs up and down and around, and in the air, and on the ground, and came up with some pretty firm conclusions about the actual distance travelled in those jumps.

And guess what.

Turns out the frog handlers weren't lyin' after all.

One frog, they caught him jumpin' seven feet, two-and-a-half inches. And he wasn't even the furthest overall jumper.

So now, these herpetologists from Rhode Island got a problem, 'cos it seems these frogs jump a lot farther than they're s'posed to. Something about breaking the laws of physics got them scientists all up in arms, or legs even.

So they're writing papers and going to conferences an' tryin' to figure all this out. Why it is that these frogs only jump that far at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, but nowhere else -- even Rhode Island.

But I can tell you what it is: the bettin'.

'Cos, as everyone knows, cash on the line, so to speak, is a terrific motivator. And from them frogs's perspectives, it's simple:

You catch more flies with money.

Now here's a little story, read by Chris, from a book called The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. It's called The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

DALET: READING: THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY


JOY TO THE WORLD Duration: 00:03:13

Album:FORREST GUMP, SOUNDTRACK

Label:EPIC, E2K 66329

Persons/Roles:
HOYT AXTON - COMPOSER
THREE DOG NIGHT - POP GROUP

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