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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Walter Mosley / Leisure Activities / The Scissor Sisters - 2004-10-02

Broadcast: October 1, 2004



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music from the Scissor Sisters ...

The newest crime mystery from author Walter Mosley ...

And a question from a listener who wants to know what Americans do in their free time.

Walter Mosley


Walter Mosley has published eight books in his Easy Rawlins mystery series. Gwen Outen tells us about this popular author and his most recent book.


Walter Mosley is fifty-two years old. He was born in Los Angeles, California. He is the son of an African-American father and a Jewish mother. His books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Walter Mosley calls himself a political writer. His books gained popularity during the nineteen ninety-two presidential campaign. Bill Clinton named him as one of his favorite writers.

Walter Mosley is best known for his mystery series about a private investigator. Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins is African-American. He is tough and powerful, yet caring and gentle.

Most of the books in the series have names of colors in their titles. First in the series was “Devil in a Blue Dress.” It was published in nineteen-ninety. Other titles include “White Butterfly,” “Black Betty” and “A Little Yellow Dog.”

Walter Mosley recently published “Little Scarlet.” Scarlet is a kind of red. The story is about a woman named Nola Payne. She is known as Little Scarlet because she has red hair. The story takes place in nineteen sixty-five at the time of the race riots in Watts. Watts is a poor area of Los Angeles.

Nola Payne, a black woman, is found murdered after she provided shelter to a white man attacked by rioters. The man becomes a suspect in her murder. Because of racial tensions, white police officers call Easy Rawlins to help solve the murder.

Walter Mosley has won many awards. These include an O’Henry Award and an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. That award honors works that increase the understanding of racism or the value of different cultures. This year the Robert Redford Sundance Institute honored Walter Mosley with a “Risktaker Award.”

What’s next for Walter Mosley? He plans to publish his first book for young adults next year. It will combine history, science fiction and exploration. He is also working on an Easy Rawlins television series. And Walter Mosley says he is working on his next Easy Rawlins mystery novel. It, too, will be published next year.

Leisure Activities


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Ghana. Jonathan Mutuo asks what Americans do when they are not working.

Well, the average adult spends almost two hours a day on household activities like cooking, cleaning and paying bills. How do we know? The Department of Labor has just released a study of how Americans use their time.

The study confirmed something that many people already knew. Women spend more time on child care and housework than men do even when the women are employed. Men, however, spend more time at work. Men also spend more time on leisure activities and sports. They average five hours twenty minutes a day, half an hour more than women.

Leisure activities include things like watching television, seeing friends or exercising. Both men and women reported that they spent about half their leisure time watching television. Visiting friends and attending social events was the next most common leisure activity for both sexes.

Older Americans spent more of their leisure time watching TV and reading than younger people. Younger people reported spending more time with friends, using the computer and playing sports. In all, nineteen percent of men and sixteen percent of women played sports on any given day. That was another finding of the Labor Department study.

We did a little study of our own. We asked a few people how they spend their time outside of work.

A student in a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., told us that she reads or studies for school. She also likes to run and swim. And she enjoys eating with friends or watching movies. When she’s at home, she enjoys cooking.

A worker at a bookstore likes to experience the local nightlife. He enjoys meeting with his friends for drinks and food. He also goes dancing in clubs. When he wants a quiet night, he turns off his telephone and sleeps as long as he wants.

And a professor at American University in Washington told us that she spends her free time on home repairs. “There is a lot to be done when you own your own house,” she says. She and her husband also enjoy movies. And on nice days, they walk in the woods or visit museums.

The Scissor Sisters


The Scissor Sisters were popular in Britain first. But now the band is gaining popularity in the United States. Shep O’Neal has our report.


The five members of the Scissor Sisters are not really sisters. They are not even all female. The Scissor Sisters are four men and one woman from New York City. Music critics say you have to go back at least thirty years to singers like the Bee Gees or Elton John to find music like theirs.

Here is an example from their recent album. The name of the song is "Laura.”


One of the most popular songs on the album was first recorded by the British group Pink Floyd. But music critics say the Scissor Sisters have taken it to a new level. The song is “Comfortably Numb.”


Fans say the Scissor Sisters are making today’s pop music exciting again. Anyone old enough to remember disco dance music will recognize the sound.

We leave you now with another song from the group. This one is called “Better Luck.”



This is Doug Johnson.

Send your questions about American life to Please include your name and postal address. And, if you’d like, you can also e-mail us a picture of yourself that will appear at voaspecialenglish dot com if we use your question.

This program was written by Lawan Davis, Brian Kim and Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Jim Sleeman.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.