When Phyllis Diller died this week at the age of 95, much was made of the way she burst open doors for women in comedy. But she also showed a way for people to make a midlife crisis into a breakthrough.
Diller was an Eisenhower-era housewife in the smokestack-and-factory-whistle suburbs of Oakland, Calif., whose husband worked at the naval air base. They had five children and could use some extra income. Phyllis, who had been an art and music student in her youth, also had extra, unfulfilled ambitions to entertain. She volunteered at veteran's hospitals for the Red Cross.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Ethiopia's longtime prime minister died this week. Meles Zenawi was 57. He came to power in 1991 when a rebel army toppled that nation's Marxist dictator and the Ethiopian leader became a trusted U.S. ally in the war against terrorism. As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, he leaves behind a mixed legacy.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Republicans and Democrats will talk a lot about the economy during their national conventions over the next couple of weeks. And yet, the man who is about to be nominated by the Republican convention, Mitt Romney, briefly strayed from an economic message yesterday, while speaking in the Detroit suburb of Commerce, Michigan.
Political conventions used to be dramatic events that made history. They nominated candidates for president. They debated crucial issues under glaring lights. Now, not so much. Presidential candidates win or lose nominations in primaries, and parties tend to see - and use - conventions as what amounts to advertisements for themselves. Our apologies to Norman Mailer.
Originally published on Sat August 25, 2012 7:16 am
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Apple has won a decisive victory in a closely watched patent lawsuit. A federal jury in California yesterday ordered Samsung to pay Apple slightly more than $1 billion. The jury found that the world's largest maker of smartphones had essentially stolen iPhone and iPad technology. As NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, the impact of the ruling is likely to be felt throughout the tech industry.
This just in: Gibbons on helium sing like sopranos. Wired magazine reports on a study at Kyoto University in which an ape named Fuku-chan was placed in a chamber filled with helium enriched air. This was not a party trick. Helium-rich air apparently allows scientists to more easily analyze vocalizations. Fuku-chan's bellow went from this:
All summer long, Weekend Edition has been bringing listeners the sounds of music played outdoors by all manner of street performers. Of all the cities in America that embrace buskers, New Orleans, with its tradition of jazz and oompah bands at Mardi Gras, may be the most welcoming. It also happens to be a city with a certain eccentric flair — so Weekend Edition wasn't surprised to find Clyde Casey there.