Barbara Ruben's Blog

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What do you have to say?

From two brothers reuniting to co-author a novel to a former newspaper publisher recounting her career during the turbulent ‘60s, budding authors have been finding it easier to break into print over the last decade. While it’s harder than ever to make it out of the “slush pile” in traditional publishing houses these days, a revolution in self-publishing means that with a relatively small investment, authors can share their carefully crafted words with the world at large.

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Tags: Arts & Style

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Goodbye to a quiz whiz

Back in 2005, "It's Academic" host Mac McGarry ferried me around the NBC channel 4 studio, introducing me to news anchors and other luminaries before settling back to talk about his more than 40-year career as host of the high school quiz show for a Beacon cover story on him. In the weekly show, teams from three local schools compete with lightning-fast velocity to answer questions  ranging from history to literature to math.

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A march remembered

Lucila Woodard was 29 years old when she made her first visit to Washington, D.C.  On August 28, 1963, she attended the March on Washington in the nation’s capital and her memories from the day include hearing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous words.

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Courting controversy?

During the coverage of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in June, I first heard of 84-year-old plaintiff Edie Windsor. Although she had married her longtime partner in 2007, the marriage wasn’t recognized legally. When her wife died in 2009, Windsor was hit with a $363,000 estate tax bill she would not have had to pay if she her spouse had been male.

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Tags: Features

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Catching up with KC and Melissa Etheridge

During the disco music-fueled days of the mid- and late-1970s, KC and the Sunshine Band was ubiquitous, getting down tonight on every top 40 radio station across the country. At the same time, nascent rock star Melissa Etheridge was honing her guitar skills in her small Kansas hometown and would burst onto the national scene in 1988 with her first album.

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Rubbing shoulders with celebrity

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Feinstein, who sings classics from the Great American Songbook by such composers and lyricists as Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter in concert and shares information about these musical legends on his shows on PBS and NPR. Feinstein grew up in Ohio in the 1960s and ‘70s, the same as me, and shared how he came to be listening to the greats of another era while I tuned my tangerine-colored Panasonic radio to a station that played a perpetual loop of the Rolling Stones, Eagles and Jackson Five.

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Creating a show about aging parents

Soon after my last blog post about the dearth of older characters on TV and realistic story lines for them, I interviewed Amy Lippman, creator o the YouTube show, “Ruth and Erica.” The show, which is presented in seven-minute snippets, follows  40-something Erica, played by Maura Tierney (currently also in the CBS hit “The Good Wife”), who is grappling with caring for her increasingly frail mother and father, who is in the early stages of Alzhe

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Blowing in the wind

In the 1930s, dust clouds roiled a mile high and more than 100 miles wide across the Great Plains, visible on the horizon hours before the black blizzards descended on towns and decimated farms. “It looked like the end of the world,” said Cal Crabill of the wall of dust that would plow into his Colorado farm near the Kansas border. “It looked like a mountain range moving toward us.”

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Must-see TV?

The fall season of TV kicked off in earnest this week, with dozens of new and returning shows vying for couch potatoes everywhere. I must admit with the shorter days and cooler weather, TV can be alluring on fall nights — especially after last parting with your favorite characters on a warm spring evening months before. But the other night I started thinking: Just how many of those characters on my favorite shows are over 50? Very few, it turns out.

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A town hall meeting to promote health reform

The White House convened a “town hall” meeting on June 11 to answer questions about how the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as healthcare reform, is helping seniors.