Blues guitarist-singer Albert Collins with Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer.Courtesy of Alligator Records

Remembering Delmark Records Founder Bob Koester

Fifty years ago, Bruce Iglauer wanted his boss, Delmark Records owner Bob Koester, to release music from a blues trio called Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers. Iglauer, a young shipping clerk and protégé of Koester’s, was drawn to the group’s cheery, danceable songs and felt compelled to share them with a wider audience. But Koester declined. So, Iglauer decided to strike out on his own, and Alligator Records was born. Since then, the Grammy-winning label has released work from many well-known artists, including Albert Collins, Marcia BallRobert CrayKoko TaylorShemekia Copeland and Charlie Musselwhite.

Iglauer joined NPR’s Scott Simon to speak about the legendary blues label and its new, three-CD set, 50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin’ Music. Listen to the full audio above, and read on for highlights from the interview.

Interview Highlights

On Hound Dog Taylor’s music, the inspiration behind Alligator Records 

“It was the happiest music I had ever heard. You know, Hound Dog didn’t do slow, cry-in-your-beer blues. He did blues to make you drink your beer and get up and dance. It was so raw, and it was so spontaneous. It was just three guys, two electric guitars and a drum set, playing cheap equipment in a club that didn’t even have a stage. And the music just made me want to dance and jump up and down, and it needed to be shared. It felt so great.”

On Shemekia Copeland’s “Clotilda’s On Fire

“It’s a song about the very last slave ship that came to the United States, to Mobile, Ala., just before the Civil War. By that time, importing slaves was illegal, but they did it anyway. And in order to hide it, they burned the ship in the harbor after they unloaded the slaves. It was rediscovered only a few years ago, and it brought back all the memories of how close we still are to those years of slavery. Later in the song, [Copeland] sings, we’re still living with the ghost. And I think this last summer, we saw a lot of that. But she actually recorded it before Black Lives Matter, and it was held because of the pandemic. … I love the fact that she’s getting outside of the traditional blues subject matter and singing songs that are for today’s audience and tomorrow’s audience, and I’m looking for more artists like that for the future of Alligator.”

On the purpose of blues music

“Well, the blues was designed not to make you feel bad. When I first came to Chicago, in 1970, a patron at one of the blues clubs said to me, ‘You listen to the blues to get rid of the blues.’ You know, blues was created by horribly oppressed people down South, Black people down South. But the magic is that the music speaks to people all over the world, and it makes them feel better. It squeezes the pain out of you. It’s a healing music. It’s a music that’s been easy for me to dedicate my whole career to, and it’s a music that just keeps feeding me emotionally.” 



A meteorologist goes up against Alabama’s deadly tornadoes, as NPR’s Invisibilia explores our relationship with uncertainty.

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December 16, 2021

Philip Reeves 2016 square


A constitutional assembly elected by the people in Chile is writing a post-Pinochet constitution, in the midst of a divisive presidential election.

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MAGIC IN THE MESSAGE ~ The WAshington Post

Disney's 'Encanto' has a simple but powerful message: It's not what you do, but who you are that counts
Encanto’s Mirabel, Disney’s first bespectacled “princess,”  investigates the source of her family’s waning magical gifts.

Mirabel Madrigal has a problem — or maybe she is the problem.

The 15-year-old heroine of Encanto, Disney’s latest shoo-in for an animated-feature Oscar nomination, belongs to a very special family. Years ago, when her grandmother (voice of María Cecilia Botero) was forced to flee her home with infant triplets, she was “granted a miracle,” though by whom and why is never explained.

First part of that miracle? A magical house, high in the mountains of Colombia, that is almost a living organism.

Second: Every member of the Madrigal family (not including in-laws) is given a special ability as a child. Mirabel’s mother (Angie Cepeda) can heal injury and sickness with her cooking. Aunt Pepa (Carolina Gaitan) controls the weather via her emotions. One sister has super-strength, while another is effortlessly graceful, gorgeous, and can summon flowers from thin air. But Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) has no gift.

Her grandmother reminds her of this often.

When the house’s foundations start to crack, and her relatives’ gifts begin to dim and disappear, Mirabel decides to track down the problem. What follows is delightfully complicated; it’s a quest in which our heroine never leaves home, and the enemy — if there is one — isn’t who you’d expect. Even if the story lacks logic at some points, when you keep in mind that the whole saga started with an unexplained miracle, it’s easy enough to forgive the lack of cohesion.

The characters deepen marvelously as the story goes on, and it becomes clearer that the blessings received as children have now become burdens. If you can manipulate the weather, for example, there’s a lot of pressure to keep things sunny. And the film’s overarching message, while one we’ve heard before — people are worthy of love because of who they are, not what they do — is simple yet powerful.

The visuals are lush and lovely, down to such tiny details as the reflections in Mirabel’s glasses. (In an important step for representation, she’s the first bespectacled Disney “princess.”) Her adorably rumpled curls beg the questions: What product does she use to keep then from going frizzy in the Colombian humidity? Directors Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith rely heavily on close-ups: Watching Mirabel’s “performance” is a joy on par with watching a master actor at work. The slightest movement of an eyebrow or the twitch of her mouth conveys so much meaning that it’s easy to forget you’re watching someone who doesn’t actually exist. Combined with Beatriz’s excellent voice work, the character animation makes Mirabel a welcome addition to the pantheon of Disney heroines.

While Germaine Franco’s score is outstanding, the original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda don’t have the catchiness or the power we’ve come to expect from other Disney films. They’re also incredibly similar, though inarguably weaker, than Miranda’s earlier work. The big number, “Waiting on a Miracle,” sounds so much like “Burn” from Hamilton that it feels plagiarized. Some of the songs also feel unnecessary; they don’t move the story along or deepen our understanding of the characters. It’s like Miranda was trying to make a quota.

Anyone who has ever felt left out by their family will see themselves in Mirabel. (Frankly, anyone who has a family will recognize — or identify with — someone in this movie.) While Mirabel is at the center of Encanto, the story is really about the Madrigals as a whole. What makes a family? Who belongs in what role? How can familial approval be something that both heals and hurts? It’s a creative, fresh take on a story that is much more complex than your standard fairy tale.


#92 – Peter Hackett – World Authority on Altitude Sickness & the Doctor of the Death Zone

Do you think you have what it takes to climb Mount Everest? Did you ever think about what it might be like,  and if you did it, would you kill a bunch of brain cells and come home…..different? Or, maybe not at all….?

  Fact is, today’s guest feels that a person of moderate physical capacity could take on The Big E given the right conditions, with the use of bottled oxygen….

 He also says to climb Everest it really helps to have been born with what he calls The Stupid Gene…the quality of being able to suffer for long periods of time, even willingly, in order to achieve a goal.

Today’s guest on The Happiness Quotient is Dr. Peter Hackett….he LITERALLY wrote the book on altitude sickness….it’s called Mountain Sickness: Prevention, Recognition and Treatment (American Alpine Club Climber’s Guide).

Peter is no ordinary doctor…he’s a mountaineer. He climbed Everest in 1981 as a member and doctor on the American Medical Expedition…when he summited he was the 111th person ever to summit….it was well before the first guided expedition changed the game on the Mother Goddess of Mountains. It was also before more than one team was allowed on the same route….

I first met Peter in 2000, we were working on a documentary for PBS Nova called Deadly Ascent, a film endeavoring  to solve the mystery of high-altitude deaths on one of the most dangerous mountains on Earth: Denali.   I was the high altitude cinematographer and Peter was the doctor, the main character. We were there to chronicle the season, ready to capture on film daring mountain rescues and emergency medical evacuations….

In 2007 Peter found the Institute for Altitude Medicine in conjunction with the Telluride Medical Center and the University of Colorado to provide clinical care and consultation, conduct research and develop educational programs to optimize health as well treat medical issues affecting people who either live at, or travel to, high altitudes. 

Fast forward to 2019….I was on Mount Everest, filming Lost on Everest for National Geographic and Disney….while at 21,000 feet, the evening before leaving for our tam’s final summit bid….I began to show some signs of an altitude induced TIA….a trans ischemic attack, or a minor stroke. The symptoms were minor, numbing of the face…. More than 7,000 miles away Dr. Peter Hackett was summoned via Mark Synnott’s text messages. 

Peter was at a medical conference at the time…and he consulted with other physicians about my condition…many texts went back and forth. Basically he said this: 50-percent chance it’s really nothing, a migraine thing that will disappear and have no impact on me at altitude. The flip side is that if it IS a TIA and it re-appears on my summit bid….I die. He and the doctors suggested I remove myself from the summit team. 

That afternoon I was in Base Camp. Maybe I don’t have as much of that Stupid Gene as I used to….

So, do you have what it takes to climb Everest? What happens up there when someone climbs into the DEath Zone?  

A few facts:

Let’s take the 2019 season, the season I was there on the Chinese side, as an example 

There were 11 deaths….eight of those deaths are basically unexplained, the cause of death listed as either altitude sickness (3 of the climbers) or exhaustion during descent,…listed for six of them….and of those 11 deaths, six of those were climbers in their 50’s or 60’s, where the possibility of dying at altitude increases. What is going on at altitude and how is the body responding to the extremes of the death zone?

Here’s my conversation with Peter Hackett, Doctor of the Death Zone… We spoke in May of 2021.

Bob Fulton, Pilot Notes

“I am almost inspired to do less and call it a contribution.” Bob Fulton

Pilots Notes Part I

Bob Fulton, friend of many, unfortunately passed on, but fondly remembered.


November 24, 2021



Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim are unlikely friends in Licorice Pizza.

The words “Licorice Pizza” are never spoken in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s new movie, Licorice Pizza, and so you may wonder where the title comes from, especially if you weren’t in Southern California in the ’70s. It’s the name of an old chain of record stores that were around when Anderson was growing up in the San Fernando Valley. The movie unfolds like a jumbled ’70s flashback, one that he seems to have scrapped together by rummaging through cherished old stories and songs. We hear some of them on the gloriously overstuffed soundtrack: Nina Simone, Sonny & Cher, The Doors and others. The movie is funny, shaggy and altogether wonderful. 

It’s also an obvious labor of love, starring two young actors with whom Anderson has some history. One of them is Cooper Hoffman, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was one of Anderson’s regular collaborators. Cooper Hoffman plays a 15-year-old go-getter with the made-for-Hollywood name of Gary Valentine. 

At the beginning of the movie, Gary meets a 20-something photographer’s assistant named Alana; she’s played by Alana Haim, who’s part of a rock trio, Haim, with her two sisters. They’ve appeared in several short films and music videos directed by Anderson. Alana Haim is a revelation here, with a radiant star-is-born aura that hooks you the moment she first appears.

The movie is something of a romantic comedy, but a platonic one. Gary is instantly smitten with Alana and tries to impress her, bragging about his acting career — he has one movie under his belt — and the PR company he runs with his busy single mom. 

Alana dismisses him at first, noting their age difference, but something about Gary’s insistent charm wears her down, and a friendship forms. Gary’s 15 minutes in Hollywood are soon over, but he’s an unusually enterprising kid, and he soon opens a waterbed company in the Valley, and Alana, who has nothing better to do, becomes his business partner.

Their relationship is a series of rocky ups and downs, separations and reunions. Gary loves Alana and never stops trying to win her over. Alana admires Gary’s entrepreneurial spirit, but she’s also easily turned off by his immaturity and wonders why she’s hanging out with him and his 15-year-old friends to begin with. The movie sends them zig-zagging from one comic episode to the next. Not all of them work — I cringed at a recurring comic bit in which the actor John Michael Higgins talks to his Japanese wife in an exaggerated accent. 

But Anderson is on more solid footing when he shows Gary and Alana getting caught up in the craziness of 1970s Hollywood. At one point, Alana is clearly out of her element when she has drinks with a motorcycle-riding actor who’s meant to evoke William Holden, played by a gravel-voiced Sean Penn. Later, Alana, Gary and their friends deliver a waterbed to the Hollywood producer and notorious sex pest Jon Peters, played by a hilarious Bradley Cooper

Gary Valentine is a young stand-in for Gary Goetzman, a prolific film and TV producer whose colorful stories about ’70s Hollywood, including his own start as a child actor, drive a lot of the plot in Licorice Pizza. That said, it’s an Anderson movie through and through. It might be sunnier and more laid-back than his earlier dramas like There Will Be Blood and The Master, but it’s no less rich in historical detail. One of the movie’s funniest set-pieces, an action scene involving a runaway truck, takes place during the gas shortages that would cause car lines to stretch on for miles. A more serious subplot finds Alana working as a volunteer for the 1973 L.A. mayoral campaign of Joel Wachs, played by Benny Safdie with a deceptive golden-boy smile. 

No matter what shenanigans Alana and Gary tumble into, nearly every episode ends in disillusionment. Grown-ups — and especially grown-up men — are so phony, so disappointing, so corrupt. And the men who work in the movies may be the worst of all: For all his affection for old Hollywood, Anderson isn’t afraid to lay bare the tawdry side of the industry and the dangers it poses, especially for an impressionable young woman like Alana.

And so there’s something satisfying about how consistently Licorice Pizza rejects movie making convention. It’s clearly influenced by American Graffiti, another portrait of California youth, but it also has the loose-and-limber vibe of great ’70s filmmakers like Robert Altman and Hal Ashby. Anderson delights in filling the screen with wonderfully unglamorous young faces, freckles, pimples and all. Both Hoffman and Haim are terrific, and Haim in particular has so much natural warmth and charisma that you’d gladly follow her into another movie — especially if it were as endearing and singular as this one.