Alan Arkin - Joan Didion - ICC Prosecutor

Hour One
Alan Arkin is many things: actor, director, musician, writer and children's book author. He has starred and appeared in more than 80 films. And he recently published his memoir, An Improvised Life.

Michael Enright speaks to the Academy-Award winning actor about his professional journey, and some interesting insights he's picked up along the way.

Hour Two

Joan Didion is one of North America's best loved authors, but it has come at a price. Six years ago she wrote The Year of Magical Thinking, a raw memoir that chronicled her struggles after her husband John Gregory Dunne's sudden death. Her latest, Blue Nights is a rumination on motherhood and frailty ... after the death of her only daughter Quintana.

Michael speaks with Joan Didion about loss, and how writing has helped her find meaning in her grief.

Hour Three

Luis Moreno Ocampo rose to international prominence for successfully prosecuting human rights abuses by senior military officials in his native Argentina's so called "Dirty War."

But success in his current job has proved even more difficult.

Mr. Moreno Ocampo is the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. After eight years on the job, he has yet to secure a conviction.

This morning, Luis Moreno Ocampo talks abut his legacy and the future of the controversial court.

Elsewhere in the show: The Wheat Board was established in 1935 to control prices, so as to benefit farmers in the Great Depression. Now, however, the Wheat Board could be gone by Christmas.

Hour One

Alan Arkin:

According to Alan Arkin, life is like tap dancing on a rubber raft, no matter how carefully we plan, things  can become choppy.

And, when that happens, it's time to ditch the old life preservers, throw ourselves into the sea and reach for new ones.
In short, learn to improvise.

Alan Arkin knows of what he speaks.

He is an Academy Award-winning actor, director, musician and writer and children's book author. He has starred and appeared in over 80 films.

Most recently he is the author of the memoir, An Improvised Life, in which he writes about his professional journey as an actor and some surprising  personal discoveries along the way.

Before he was an actor, Alan Arkin had another career, in music. He was a folksinger, one of the Tarriers, whose claim to fame was the Banana Song.

This morning he's in the KSFR public radio studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Hour Two

Nails Documentary, Pink Sparkly Tips:

There is a business monopoly in this country unlike any other.

It centres around fine workmanship, tiny bottles of decorative paints and hard working, usually glamorous, women.

I am talking about nail salons. Nail salons that have popped up in every mall in the country, many of them run by Vietnamese women.

The domination of the Vietnamese in the nail business started back in the mid 70's when Hollywood actress Tippi Hedren befriended 20 women in a refugee tent city in California. She brought in her manicurist to teach them the business. Today, 80% of California nail technicians, as they're known, are of Vietnamese heritage.

It's much the same in Canada.

Take Lavish nail salon on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. It had its grand opening a few weeks ago. There are five brown shiny leatherette massaging pedicure chairs with built in stereos, rows of nail tables, a potted orchid on the front desk. Everything about the place is - well - lavish. But a regular manicure is only 20 dollars.

The salon is owned by two women who lived through the upheaval of civil war in Vietnam. Each made their separate ways to Alberta where they met.

Now forty-five-year-old Anna Chan and Linh Vu, thirty-seven, are like sisters, united in their mission to beautify the women of Edmonton.

Gillian Rutherford offered up her fingernails in an effort to find out why Vietnamese women have such a lock on the nail business.

Winter Tales:

This year is the 75th anniversary of both the CBC and the Governor Generals' Literary Awards. In honour of this, the CBC and the GG's have jointly commissioned a series of original stories on the theme of winter.

Each is written by a past GG winner and over the coming weeks you will hear some of their stories in our series Winter Tales.

This week, Diane Shoemperlen reads her story, The Perfect Day.

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Ms. Schoemperlen has published several collections of short fiction and three novels, In the Language of Love; Our Lady of the Lost and Found; and At A Loss For Words.

Her collection, Forms of Devotion: Stories and Pictures won the 1998 Governor-Generals Award for English Fiction.

Diane Schoemperlen lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Joan Didion:

Joan Didion may not be one for using talk as therapy, but she has written her way through the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and now, of her only child Quintana.
It was Socrates who said, "the unexamined life is not worth living".  But it was Joan Didion who said, "the unexamined fact is like a rattlesnake. It's going to come after you. And you can keep it at bay by always keeping it in your eye line."

And so, she has faced down her facts by writing two memoirs of grief in an attempt to wrestle them into some kind of meaning.

The Year of Magical Thinking  was a raw chronicle of the year following her husband's death...a year when she says she went a little crazy. Blue Nights is a rumination on motherhood, frailty, aging and loss.

Ms Didion is the author of five novels, and nine books of non-fiction, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album, and a play. 

In 2007 she was awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for "her distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence."
This morning, Joan Didion joins us in our studio in Toronto.

Hour Three

ICC Prosecutor:

He's a prosecutor with eight years on the job and zero convictions to his name. He fights for justice without an army or even a single police officer. He's indicted the very powerful for the very worst of all crimes - yet his targets often hide in plain sight beyond his reach.

Luis Moreno Ocampo is the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, based in the Hague. It's the first permanent world court based on an international treaty.That agreement - known as the Rome Statute - has been adopted by 117 countries but does not include some of the most powerful and populous  - the United States, Russia, China and India. But the court does have judges, defendants and on-going cases and investigations. And in 2017, it will have new powers - the ability to charge individuals with the "crime of aggression."

Mr. Moreno Ocampo is originally from Argentina, where he gained fame for successfully prosecuting human rights abuses by senior military officials in his country's so called "Dirty War." Next year, his nine-years as Chief Prosecutor will end and he's not eligible to renew his term.

This morning, Luis Moreno Ocampo joins us from a studio in the Hague in the Netherlands.

Wheat Board:

Wheat.  It is the most important cereal grain in the world and, along with fur trapping and the railroad, it made Canada.

We are one of the largest wheat exporters on the planet, about 19 thousand tons a year, more than any other crop. There are some 75,000 farmers across the Prairies who make their livelihood from it. And to sell their wheat, they have depended for generations on the Canadian Wheat Board.

The Wheat Board, as we know it today, was established in 1935 to control prices, so as to benefit farmers in the Great Depression.

Now, however, the Wheat Board could be gone by Christmas. The Conservative government has been promising to get rid of it for years, and with its majority in parliament, is making good on that promise.

It's hard to say what it will mean to farmers and the rest of us. If anybody has an idea, it is John Herd Thompson, who has documented the history of the Wheat Board. Winnipeg born-and-bred, he earned his PhD at Queen's University and has taught at McGill, Simon Fraser and the University of Alberta.  For more than two decades, he has been Professor of History at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  He joins us from a studio there.

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