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Stephen Sondheim

Award-winning Composer and Lyricist

Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos, and certainly puzzles. The nice thing about doing a crossword puzzle is you know there is a solution. I also like murder mysteries for the same reason. Again, the puzzle murder mysteries, the Agatha Christie kinds of things where you know that it's all going to be neatly wound up at the end and everything's going to make logical sense. I think that's why murder mysteries are popular, is this defense against chaos.
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Stephen Sondheim

Award-winning Composer and Lyricist

The way you get into the character -- the way you get in the song, both musically and lyrically -- is to become the character. It's the only way. I don't know how else you do it, unless you're the playwright who created the character in the first place. But I'm always writing for characters that somebody else has created, my collaborator, and so the only way I can get into I've said -- and it's probably an exaggeration, but not much -- that by the time I get through writing a score, I know the book better than the book writer does, because I've examined every word, and questioned the book writer on every word. Why does she say this? Why doesn't she say that? And that's getting to know the character. And then writing the song is acting it. So I can start ad libbing. It's exactly like improvisatory acting. So here's the character Blanche. We're hiring you to play Blanche. Okay. Just veer from the Tennessee Williams script and just start ad libbing as Blanche. If you're thoroughly in the character, you can do it. You may not have the poetry yet, but everything you say will be in the character of Blanche. That's what I do. I take off from what the book writer has written, sometimes using a line of his as a springboard, and ad lib, and improvise as that character. That's what I'm doing.
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Wole Soyinka

Nobel Prize for Literature

Wole Soyinka: I was trying to recapture certain features. Community, we spoke earlier of the community. In The Swamp Dwellers, for instance, I was trying to capture a sense of community which I'd known in Nigeria. And The Lion and the Jewel was also, again, it's a comedy of course, and it is to capture the transition between traditional society, the concept of Western, quote unquote, "civilization," and trying to see the weaknesses in either. One was not necessarily a progression on the other. These were just expressions of my own observations of society.
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Wole Soyinka

Nobel Prize for Literature

Wole Soyinka: Many people outside my own country are closer to me in spirit, and as far as I'm concerned, in blood, than many who pretend that they are leaders in my own country. Some of them, as far as I'm concerned, dropped from Mars. So I don't have any kind of a -- what you might call, basic patriotism. I lack it completely. I recognize communities. I'm very glad we spoke of communities. I recognize communities as being close to me. I'm a member of a certain community which is both internal, which happens to be located in the nation space called Nigeria, but that community also extends outside the Nigerian borders. And that community, as far as I'm concerned, is without color, without gender, without class. All those details for me are irrelevant. And they are my family, wherever they are. So Nigeria? Why should I dedicate my Nobel speech to Nigeria? Nigeria is just for me a figure of speech.
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Thomas Starzl

Father of Modern Transplantation

Thomas Starzl: Transplantation overall was a field that grew slowly at first, but then achieved monumental stature, actually changed the philosophy by which medicine is practiced, without knowing what was being accomplished. What were the mechanisms? What is the explanation? What finally brought some peace of mind, with the insight of knowledge, that transplantation actually could be -- and frequently was -- a curative operation. That that downhill slope of a graft being under constant attack and slowly, slowly losing ground until you were going to get a phone call. When it was finally discovered what the mechanisms were -- and they all surrounded the chimerism discoveries -- you realized that that was not an inevitable downhill slope. That transplantation was inherently a curative procedure that you could do on a child, like my grandson or a baby, and expect the child to grow up and go to college and have their own children. And that happened actually. Many of the transplant patients have had children who have had children. That early group of kidney patients that I did in 1962 and 1963, a group of 45 or 46, there are some still -- nine or ten of those patients -- still going with that original graft. That means that they're approaching 50 years now. In fact, they're in their 48th or 49th year right now. Those are the longest. Not a single case, but they are the longest patients in the world. And many of them have gotten off of (immunosuppressant) drugs. That is another unique observation. The longest surviving liver recipient in the world is in her 41st or 42nd year. And there are many following behind, you know. Like 35 to 40 years.
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Thomas Starzl

Father of Modern Transplantation

In 1992 we set out to try to find out what the hell was going on. What were in fact the mechanisms by which it had been possible to successfully transplant organs and have them stick? Not only stay functioning, but to be able in the long run to get off drugs, in some cases. So that question was what drove the search for chimerism. And we found it in every surviving patient. Now if you had made the observation that we did in 1992, in isolation, it would have been dismissed as an artifact, perhaps even as an error, or as some kind of an epiphenomenon. You know, nothing. But armed with this memory bank of nearly a half century, the minute we found tumors, we found the chimeric cells. I was able to put every damn thing together that had been a mystery before, because transplantation in the conventional way that immunologists were viewing it was not only unsound, it was totally inexplicable. And the observations that were being made in the clinic about rejection, its reversal, and all the various complications and phenomenon, never could be explained. But suddenly with that discovery, you take all those little pieces, and just like magic, as if a magnet had pulled them together in exactly the right position, filled the whole picture out. And that piece of magic took place after I wrote The Puzzle People. It's one of the later printings, which you may not have, has the story, briefly summarized in four or five pages. I'll get that for you if you don't have it.
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