Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

Concerns in Europe over a slowdown in economic growth have been rattling global financial markets. NPR's Scott Simon talks with correspondent John Ydstie about the volatile week on Wall Street.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Book cover....
A son with cerebral palsy inspires a new way to think about imperfection, exaltation and love in a new memoir by Brazilian novelist and screenwriter Diogo Mainardi.

Tito is a delightful young man. The world would call him disabled; he's had cerebral palsy since birth, the result of a bungled medical procedure at a hospital in Venice.

Tito was born to Anna and Diogo Mainardi, who is one of Brazil's best-known columnists as well as a novelist and screenwriter.

Tito is dauntless and spirited. He can walk 424 steps before he falls — but he always falls.

Diogo Mainardi has written a memoir of a family who begins to see in their son a new way to think about imperfection, expectation, exaltation and love. His new book is called The Fall: A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps. It's translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa.

Mainardi tells the story of his family's transformation using references to Shakespeare's Richard III, Tintoretto's paintings, James Joyce, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Neil Young, U-2 and Abbott and Costello. Tito has taught his father much about life, Mainardi tells NPR's Scott Simon.

"I was a pretentious prick, and after him, I was a better person," he says.

Interview Highlights

On the medical mistake that injured Tito

They tried to hurry up delivery, because it was a Saturday. Our obstetrician surely wanted to have her pasta still hot on the table, so she tried to hurry up everything and bungled everything. My son, he remained without any oxygen for a while, and that caused his cerebral palsy.

On how he and his wife felt on learning of his condition

We knew, right at the beginning, that he was almost dead. But after two weeks in an intensive care unit, he seemed to be all right. He survived everything, and we were relieved.

After six months we were told that he had cerebral palsy. We were not prepared. We felt fear, but that fear lasted for exactly a week. I was sitting on the sofa with my son on my lap, I was reading a newspaper. My wife was hurrying. She tripped, and when she fell down, Tito started laughing, and he laughed as an adult. It was an incredible, liberating laugh, and we started laughing with him. We knew we had a common vocabulary and common language with Tito, which was slapstick, which was comedy.

On Tito's 3-million-euro court settlement

[When] we learned that he had cerebral palsy, I got three jobs. I went from Venice, our hometown, to Brazil, in part to do his physical therapy and in part to earn money, to work. I had those three jobs just to try to accumulate some money to leave him. And then when we learned that he was a rich young boy, I was liberated from it all, so it was great. In the book I say that I knew, when we learned that he had won the case, I felt that I could die. And it's wonderful to be able to die. I could die.

On why it was important for Tito to walk up the 424 steps of the hospital in which he was born and harmed

When you have a disabled child, you feel that he must do more and he must be able to win against his own disability, and he has to achieve. When we completed those 424 steps inside the hospital where he was born, we didn't [feel that way] any more. Years had passed, we had calmed down, we were a happy family trying to cross a bridge. Not anymore to cross the world, walking. We set less ambitious goals.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Dr. Doug Butzier was the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate in Iowa when he died in a small plane crash this week. NPR's Scott Simon thinks on the hopes even "lost cause" candidates inspire.

Dr. Doug Butzier died on duty this week. He was 59 and crashed in his own small plane flying home to Dubuque, Iowa.

Doug Butzier was a former paramedic who put himself through medical school and became chief of the emergency room and medical staff at Mercy Medical Center and the Dubuque Fire Department. An EMS supervisor named Wayne Dow told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, "We adored him ... He appreciated what we did, and he never forgot where he came from."

Dr. Butzier leaves behind his wife, two sons, and three step-children.

At the time he died, Doug Butzier was flying home alone from a campaign rally. He was the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate in Iowa, and polls showed him winning only about 2 percent of the vote.

These are the last couple of weeks of the campaign season. Candidates, parties and news sources follow polls every few minutes, like the lines on a thermometer in the mouth of a flu patient.

National political parties make unsentimental decisions not to pour any more money into candidates who are well behind in polls, because it would just stuff dollars down a drainpipe.

News organizations clamp a phrase onto a candidate's name — "running behind in the polls" — which stamps them as a lost cause.

The candidates in low digits show up at rallies and roar, "The only poll that counts is on election day," which is true, but can sound a little desperate and wild-eyed.

I have covered a lot more candidates who have lost than won. I've begun to see something glorious in candidates who must know they will lose, but still show up to shake hands in a chilly dawn at a plant gate or train platform, then do a round of radio shows where an interviewer tries to stump them by asking them the name of the foreign minister of Bulgaria, which the questioner himself has only just looked up.

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister is Daniel Mitov, by the way.

But the candidates still plunge through forums, rallies and community meetings where strangers ask, "Which one are you?" "Why doesn't anyone tell the truth about the moon landing?" And: "Why don't you just campaign on Tumblr?" They might be low in the polls, but their name is on the ballot. They have a role to play in making democracy go round, and go on in the hope that somewhere down the line something they say may catch fire in a few minds and lead to change. And sometimes, over time, it does.

Those candidates like Dr. Doug Butzier, with single or low double digits, may have only a small hope of winning. But they can give a lot of hope.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.