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Ron Funches on Chicago, Robin Williams and Lucille Ball

Comedian Ron Funches is everywhere. He’s got a new sitcom on NBC (“Undateable”) and is arguably the best panelist on Comedy Central’s “@Midnight.” Recently, Funches has brought his pothead panda bear adorableness to appearances on “New Girl,” “Portlandia” and “The Tonight Show.”

Here, Funches talks about growing up in Chicago, acting against type in a new Will Farrell movie and why Lucille Ball is sexy.

The Big Questions is part of the Sun-Times Media Local podcast network.

Mo Ryan on 12 Strategies for Dealing with Grief & Family Crisis

“Grief is a form of love,” says my friend Maureen “Mo” Ryan.

Best known as the La Grange Park-based television critic for HuffPost TV, Ryan has had a rough few years that she’s dubbed the “Parent Apocalypse.”

Four years ago, he mother was a diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that Ryan describes as “Alzheimer’s plus Parkinson’s.” In short: it’s a fatal, degenerative disease that causes declines in muscle control, mood and cognition.

Last year, Ryan’s father died, leaving her to look after her mother’s health and affairs.

At the time we recorded a podcast, Ryan had chosen not to get tested for Huntington’s disease. She has a 50 percent chance of carrying the genetic disorder.

Yet, she’s remarkably focused what brings joy and how to deal with grief. Below, Ryan offers 10 strategies for coping with grief and coming to terms with death. For such a dark subject, we laugh a lot.

Below is an excerpt of our conversation, but you can listen to the entire exchange by finding “The Big Questions” on iTunes, YouTube or SoundCloud. “The Big Questions” is part of Sun-Times Media Local’s Podcast Network.

Scott Turow on Amazon.com, the Supreme Court & latest book, “Identical”

Author Scott Turow calls his latest novel, “Identical,” a “weird stew of personal things.”

Indeed it is. The book centers around a set of twins — state Sen. Paul Giannis and his brother Cass, a recently released ex-con who served 25 years for the murder of his girlfriend. That case mirrors the unsolved case of Valerie Percy, the daughter of real-life Illinois politician Charles Percy, who was killed in her Kenilworth home in 1966. Percy, herself, was a twin, and the notorious murder happened a few miles from where Turow lived on Chicago’s North Shore. Adding thematic complexity to the tale, Turow’s family suffered the loss of a twin when he was 3 years old, a fact that reverberates through the book.

A fixture on the best-sellers list, most notably for books such as “Presumed Innocent” and “Reversible Errors,” Turow still practices law and serves as president of the Authors Guild. At 65, he has added new projects that include a young adult novel and writing for television.

In this interview, Turow talks about his 10th novel, his publisher’s fight with Amazon.com and what the Supreme Court gets wrong about political speech. Below is an edited excerpt of our talk, but you can listen to our entire conversation on our podcast “The Big Questions,” available for free on iTunes and YouTube.

Q: You’ve said before you are a big believer in this theory that authors write only one book. And if that is true for you, what is the theme of that book?

Turow: If I understood that completely, I might be writing something different. I think I am writing about the uses and abuses of power — but that is a guess. They are just the same sort of assembly of obsessions.

I am doing writing for TV now. I’m working on this young adult book. I think that’s partly an effort to avoid repeating myself. But if you go into slightly different media, then your own constant hobby horses have a new way of expressing themselves.

Q: “Identical” seems more thematically personal than much of your other work because it is about identical twins. You’ve shared that your sister had been a twin, but her fraternal twin died in childbirth. What conversations have you had with Vicki, your younger sister, about that?

Turow: That is a really interesting question. And I have been trying for the last couple of years to engage her on that subject and she’s extremely elusive, which she has every right to be. It finally dawned on me, about a year ago I said, “I’m doing all this talking about what the death of your twin meant to me.” I said, “What did it mean to you?”

And she said to me, “That’s an interesting question. … We’ll have to talk about it sometime.”

For more, listen to the entire interview.

So what’s this show about?

Death. Religion. Sex. UFOs…and other heavy subjects are made lighter when authors, comedians, artists, musicians and others share personal stories.