Umberto Eco - Faith, Hope and Charities - Tom Kent

Hour One

We begin the program with a public conversation with Umberto Eco. The author of The Name of the Rose has a new novel out all about absolute evil. But the man himself is an absolute delight.

A conversation ranging over the existence of heaven and hell to the joys of Disney World.

A roller coaster of a chat with Umberto Eco in our First Hour.

Hour Two

For nearly four decades now we have been conducting a war---a war on cancer. And in that war we have raised and spent billions upon billions of dollars.

We open our wallets and sign the cheques because all of us have been touched by cancer in one way or another.

But where does that money go after it leaves our bank account? Who spends it and on what?

Some causes, such as breast cancer, are heavily subscribed to while others, such as ovarian cancer and lung cancer get much less. Who decides?

In our Middle Hour this morning, a special examination of the economics of cancer----how the money is collected and  how it is spent.

Faith, Hope and Charities: How Your Cancer Donations Are Spent in Hour Two.

Hour Three

In our Final Hour, a documentary to knock you off your feet. Ballerinas depend on their feet and the special shoes that cover them, for their livelihood and their careers. We'll tell the   story in On Their Toes in Hour Three.

Elsewhere in the show: some thoughts on e-mail etiquette, remembering Tom Kent and another winter's tale.

Hour One

Umberto Eco:

"Entering a novel is like going on a climb in the mountains: You have to learn the rhythms of resiration - acquire the pace. Otherwise you stop right away."

You will notice that in that quotation, Umberto Eco uses the term "entering a novel", not "reading a novel."

And it's most appropriate. Because when you start an Umberto Eco novel, you are indeed entering something----a new, strange, often unexplored, sometimes threatening, often hilarious world---And you do indeed have to adjust your rhythms of respiration.

For decades he has dazzled millons of readers with daring leaps of language and narrative within the literary imagination. He was 48 when he wrote his first novel The Name of the Rose and he wrote it, he said, because "I felt like poisoning a monk."

It became an immediate international phenomenon, selling more than 20 million copies.

Mr. Eco was born in the city of Alessandria in the Piedmont region of Italy. Ignoring his father's advice to become a lawyer, he decided instead to study mediaeval philosophy and literature at the University of Turin. He said he developed a passion for the Middle Ages the way some people develop a passion for coconuts.

He also began a lifelong study of modern media and symbolism and he's one of the world's leading semioticians.

His latest novel, The Prague Cemetery , is a darkly comic and hypnotic examination of hate, pure and simple. Actually, there is nothing in the novel that is pure and simple. His central character is despicable, without any obvious saving human qualities. But at the same time, he's one of the most interesting characters in recent literature.

The Prague Cemetery  has already become a bestseller in Europe.

Earlier this week, Michael hosted an Appel Salon that was part of an ongoing series at the Toronto Reference Library. Umberto Eco made a rare visit to Canada and here is their conversation.

Mail - Wheat Board:

Last week on the program, Michael spoke with John Herd Thompson, a professor at Duke University and a chronicler of the Wheat Board's history. That conversation inspired these letters.  

Hour Two

Faith, Hope and Charities: How Your Cancer Donations Are Spent:

Part 1 - There's a "run for the cure", a "ride for the cure", the campaign for "a cure in our lifetime"...hundreds of charities in this country have raised billions of dollars in the fight against cancer, the number one killer in Canada.

The human cost is something we all know too well. There's the diagnosis of yet another friend, colleague or family member. We know someone who is undergoing treatment and fighting the good fight. And we remember those who lost the battle.

There is also a massive financial cost - including drugs, radiation, rehab, social services; plus the cost of screening for cancer and campaigning for prevention. But the vast majority of the money raised for the cause is devoted to research - to finding a cure.

We're going to talk about fundraising for cancer with the representatives of some Canadian cancer organizations. But first, an overview of cancer dollars and how they're spent.

Karen Greve Young is the co-author of a comprehensive review of cancer fundraising called "Cancer in Canada". It was published by Charity Intelligence, a non-profit group that analyzes Canadian charities to help donors make informed decisions. She is Chair of the Board of the ICR Global Foundation, which raises funds for one of the world's top five cancer research centres; and is also the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the MaRS Centre in Toronto.

Ms. Young also wrote a book with her mother, who died of ovarian cancer. It's titled Love You So Much: A Shared Memoir.

She was in our Toronto studio.

Part 2 - Barbara Kaminsky is the CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society for British Columbia and the Yukon. She was in our Vancouver studio.

Barry Stein is the President of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. He was in Montreal.

And with Michael in Toronto was Elisabeth Ross, the CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Music - Joan Sutherland:

Some music now by the great soprano Joan Sutherland. This is from a new CD compilation called "The Art of the Prima Donna."

Here is Joan Sutherland with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, conducted by Francesco Molinari-Pradelli - "Son Vergin Verzzosa" from Bellini's "I Puritani."

Hour Three

On Their Toes:

It's a world of pink satin and blocks of punishing wood, complicated feet, crushed toes and personal cobblers.

And out of it comes such grace.

There are many things that are important to a ballerina, but probably nothing more than her shoes, her pink pointe shoes.

Legend has it that 19th century sensation Maria Taglioni was the first to throw away her slippers and leap and land on the much tougher pointe shoe that now rules ballet. After she danced her last dance in glamorous St. Petersburg in 1842, admirers bought Taglioni's shoes, boiled them up.....and ate them.

The National Ballet of Canada has an entire room set aside for shoes. The shelves are crammed from floor to ceiling with thousands of pairs.

And there's a keeper, a watcher, a guardian of the shoes, there to make sure that every single pair is exactly right for the dancers who depend on them. Lorna Geddes knows shoes and she knows feet. She has danced with the company for over fifty years.

This week, as the National Ballet presents it's world premiere of a brand new Romeo and Juliet, a peek into a place where dancers bare their ........feet. Here is "On Their Toes."

Music - Sabre Dance:

This is "Sabre Dance" by Aram Khachaturian performed by the Kirov Orchestra, St Petersberg, conducted by Valery Gergiev.

Tom Kent:

The major architect of Canada's social safety net, Tom Kent, died this week at the age of 89.

An old-fashioned Capital L Liberal to the very end, he grew disillusioned over the years at the fate of his party.

Born in England, he worked as a code-breaker during the Second World War. A the end of the war he became a journalist working for the Economist and the Manchester Guardian.

He moved to Winnipeg in the Fifties, taking over the editorship of The Winnipeg Free Press.

Brought into the Liberal Party by Lester Pearson, it soon became clear that he would be a powerful force in setting Party policy and goals.

He was the father of regional development, he worked on the Canada Pension Plan and Medicare, Canada Assistance plan and all the other elements of the country's social safety net.

Later he involved himself in the question of media ownership with the Kent Commission on newspapers in 1980.

Brook Jeffrey knew Tom Kent and knows the role he played in shaping the socio-political climate of the nation as well as the Liberal Party.

Professor Jeffrey teaches political science at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the author of a number of books and papers, the most recent Divided Loyalties; The Liberal Party of Canada 1984-2008.

She was in our studio in Ottawa.

Winter Tales #3:

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

Each is written by a past GG winner.

Jack Hodgins's novels and story collections include: Spit Delaney's Island, The Invention of the World, Innocent Cities, Broken Ground, and Damage Done by the Storm.

His fiction has won the Governor General's Award, the Canada-Australia Prize, and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

This week, on Winter Tales, Jack Hodgins reads his story, Oxygen.

Music - The Sojourners:

That was the Sojourners - "By and By."

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