Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

Simon's weekly show, Weekend Edition Saturday, has been called by the Washington Post, "the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial," and by Brett Martin of Time-Out New York "the most eclectic, intelligent two hours of broadcasting on the airwaves." He has won every major award in broadcasting, including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Columbia-DuPont, the Ohio State Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sidney Hillman Award. Simon received the Presidential End Hunger Award for his coverage of the Ethiopian civil war and famine, and a special citation from the Peabody Awards for his weekly essays, which were cited as "consistently thoughtful, graceful, and challenging." He has also received the Barry M. Goldwater Award from the Human Rights Fund. Recently, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award.

Simon has hosted many television specials, including the PBS's "State of Mind," "Voices of Vision," and "Need to Know." "The Paterson Project" won a national Emmy, as did his two-hour special from the Rio earth summit meeting. He co-anchored PBS's "Millennium 2000" coverage in concert with the BBC, and has co-hosted the televised Columbia-DuPont Awards. He also became familiar to viewers in Great Britain as host of the continuing BBC series, "Eyewitness," and a special on the White House press corps. He has appeared as a guest and commentator on all major networks, including BBC, NBC, CNN, and ESPN.

Simon has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times of London, The Guardian, and Gourmet among other publications, and won a James Beard Award for his story, "Conflict Cuisine" in Gourmet. He has received numerous honorary degrees.

Sports Illustrated called his book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan "extraordinary...uniformly superb...a memoir of such breadth and reach that it compares favorably with Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes." It was at the top of several non-fiction bestseller lists. His book, and Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was Barnes and Nobles' Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, Scott Turow calling it, "the most auspicious fiction debut by a journalist of note since Tom Wolfe's. . . always gripping, always tender, and often painfully funny. It is a marvel of technical finesse, close observation, and a perfectly pitched heart." Windy City, Simon's second novel, is a political comedy set in the Chicago City Council. Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, an essay about the joys of adoption, was published in August 2010.

Simon's tweets to his 1.25 million Twitter followers from his mother's bedside in the summer of 2013 gathered major media attention around the world. He is completing a book on their last week together that will appear in time for Mother's Day 2015.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker.

There is a cease-fire in Syria. Really. The 17 nations of the International Syria Support Group signed it in February. The United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations can all say they negotiated a cease-fire.

But in just 48 hours this week, an average of one Syrian has been killed every 25 minutes. One Syrian has been wounded every 13 minutes.

Staffan de Misturahe, the U.N. special envoy for Syria, has said that the cease-fire is "still alive, but barely."

Which, is, perhaps, as close as a diplomat can get to saying it's no more.

A cooking show has reportedly dominated the recent television ratings in North Korea.

Of course there's just one broadcaster. And it's the government.

Inky is out.

Inky, an octopus who is about the size of a basketball and of undetermined age, has lammed it out of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and is at large somewhere in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.

What would you consider "the best selfie ever"?

A shot of yourself alongside the pope, the president, Angela Merkel, Lin Manuel Miranda or Steph Curry?

This week Ben Innes, a health and safety auditor from Leeds, Great Britain, used those words to send out a photo in which he posed with the man who hijacked his plane.

The hijacker has what looks like a suicide vest of explosives strapped to his chest. Ben Innes is grinning.

There are some weeks in which there is so much news about death, loss, and cruelty that you are happy to find a story that can remind you in unexpected ways about life and kindness.

Stefan Jagsch, who is a local leader of Germany's far-right NPD party, is reported to be recovering after a car crash near Büdingen.

Now is the time to pick up a Pataki for President bumper sticker. Or a Huckabee button, a Jim Webb yard sign, or keychains, ballpoint pens, and window scrapers imprinted Jindal, Paul, Perry, Chafee, Walker, Graham, Santorum, Lessig, and O'Malley for President.

It's already a kind of autumn in the cycle of a presidential campaign, in which candidacies have a last burst of color and fall to the ground.

Another cover-up is in the news.

Italy's Premier Matteo Renzi and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani held a press conference inside Rome's Capitoline Museum this week to announce $18 billion in new business between their countries, now that sanctions against Iran are ending.

Greggor Ilagan, a Hawaii county councilman who is running for the state senate, decided to try to reach that vital demographic of young voters by appearing on social networking sites. And also Tinder, a dating app.

When he announced his candidacy last summer, Mr. Ilagan told local Hawaii press he would rely more on social media than campaign fund-raising to reach voters.

Greg Ilagan said on his profile page, "I bet we can find common ground on issues and make a positive impact around us."

That sounds Jeffersonian.

There's a house for sale in Los Angeles: 29 rooms, tennis court, swimming pool, and wine cellar, a guest house, game house, movie theater, and a grotto, which is not to be confused with any grotto you've read about in the Bible.

The owner wants $200 million dollars. Local realtors say that's optimistic; which is often their way of saying, that's ridiculous.

But the house is Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion.

At the age of 89, Hef may be downsizing. Insert the double-entendre of your choice here.

Mein Kampf has been published in Germany for the first time in 70 years. What does a limited new publication of a repugnant old book say about modern Germany?

Mein Kampf -- "My Struggle" — sold at least 10 million copies, from the time it appeared in 1925 to the time the Nazis were defeated in 1945.

The book sold as many copies as The Joy of Sex or The Gospel According to Peanuts. Not because it is inspiring, bawdy, witty or moving.

It's turgid, incoherent and hateful.

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Soldiers must face many dangers - exhaustion, battle, loneliness and MREs.

One of the pleasures of being a parent is the chance to discover things you missed as a child the first time. This week I found a copy of Mark Twain's "A Letter from Santa Claus" that he wrote in 1875 for his 3 year old daughter, Susie, to see on her pillow Christmas morning.

Santa assures Susie Clemens he read the letter she had scrawled for herself and her baby sister:

"(F)or although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples' alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use ..." he wrote.

Frank Sinatra was born a hundred years ago today. Even if you think his music just isn't your music, it's hard to get through life without uttering what I'll call a "Frank Phrase" from one of his songs at telling times in our lives.

"So set 'em up, Joe ... Fly me to the moon ... I've got you under my skin ... My kind of town ... I did it my way ... I want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep ..." And that wry elegy for lost loves and lonely nights: "So make it one for my baby, and one more for the road."

What is the power of prayer? Is there any?

The front page of Thursday's New York Daily News featured quotes from prominent Republicans about the murders in San Bernardino. Headline writers thought they saw a theme.

Dr. Rand Paul had tweeted, "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims." Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, "Our prayers are with the victims." They echoed Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted, "Please keep the victims ... in your prayers."

Jonathan Pollard is out of prison, if not totally free, after 30 years. He's on parole for another five years, during which he'll have to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, won't be able to give interviews, or leave for Israel, where he is considered a hero, and says he wants to live.

He also won't be able to use the internet without U.S. government scrutiny. Someone will point out: can any of us?

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We're following to news from France today after a night of devastating violence in Paris. Coordinated attacks killed more than 120 people in six separate attacks, leaving the city really and on edge. A Parisian man spoke with France 24 today.

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And part of what makes life go on is the love of sports. Our Tom Goldman joins us on a sad morning. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

Millions of people grew up in a time when we had nuclear nightmares. We worried that a few huge bombs might blow up the world, and we rehearsed how we should hide below our school desks if sirens ever sounded.

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It's tempting to make jokes about the demands Republican candidates made of broadcasters for future debates — and believe me, I have.

But I've also squirmed to see reporters bark at presidential candidates to raise their hands, yes or no, to reply to a question, as if they were schoolchildren asking for a bathroom break. And including 30-second long opening and closing statements sounds like the least an audience might have the right to expect in a two-hour debate. Thirty seconds is just a fifth of the time of this essay.

I'd hoped to persuade my daughters to dress up as Angela Merkel and Terry Gross for Halloween tonight. But they've decided to be a goddess and a princess.

Every year or so I try to look at surveys that show which Halloween costumes are most popular. The list must reveal something about whom we revere or fear, or what or whom we'd like to pretend to be for a few hours on a Halloween night.

Google reports the top name in searches for costumes this year is Harley Quinn, Batman's adversary, and, perhaps because of that, his occasional flirtation.

Barbie is about to talk back. She has talked before, with a pull-string in her back, so she could utter a phrase or two, like, "Let's have a pizza party!"

But Mattel is about to roll out Hello Barbie, who has a mic in her waist that connects to a server in a cloud. A company called Toy Talk will analyze whatever a child tells Barbie and play one of about 8,000 replies that will be recorded and updated to stay current.

Program Hello Barbie to say, "Donald Trump," "Chicago Cubs," and, "According to polls ..." and she could do my job.

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When is a panhandler a performer? And do nearly naked women perform when they pose for a photo, or are they unclad panhandlers who get tips because people want them to buy a coat?

I covered a papal trip to the United States years ago, and my mother made sure my pockets were packed with mass cards, medallions and her rosary.

Did you have a good summer? I spent much of mine being a critic. Perhaps you did, too.

Take a flight, you get an email: "Tell us about your flight to Cleveland." Stay at a hotel, you get another survey: "Rate your stay!"

Go to a movie, have dinner, buy a garden hose, gym shoes, or a car, get your teeth cleaned, your cat cremated, buy a movie ticket, send flowers, or have an MRI, and often you're asked to rate the experience, like a Broadway opening. Five stars? Only two?

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