Arts/Life

Book Reviews
3:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Novel Reflects Desperate But Futile Search For Answers

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 4:35 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

All week, NPR has been reporting on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. And to help us make sense of the news, we turn now to literature. Here's author Jonathan Evison.

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Movie Interviews
3:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

'Le Week-End': A Story Of Feuding Couples On Screen And Off

Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) have a couple days full of tension, tiffs and a touch of romance in Le Week-End.
Nicola Dove Courtesy of Music Box Films

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 4:35 pm

In the film Le Week-End, a couple takes a weekend trip to Paris to celebrate an anniversary. But it's not the romantic getaway you might expect.

Nick and Meg, played by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, are in their 60s and have, in any ways, become disillusioned with their marriage. They spend the weekend trying to figure out what they're doing together and what they want from one another.

This is the fourth collaboration between acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi and director Roger Michell, who directed Notting Hill.

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My Big Break
3:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Pumping Up A Star: The Leaky Suit That Blew Up A Career

June Ambrose designed the black suit seen in this screenshot from Missy Elliott's highly praised music video for "The Rain."
Atlantic Records Youtube

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 4:35 pm

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Code Switch
7:14 am
Sun March 16, 2014

'Street Fighter II': Most Racist Nostalgic Video Game Ever?

Dhalsim, right, a skinny Indian fighter who wore shrunken skulls around his neck, could stretch his limbs really far to punch or kick. His fighting style was based on yoga, you see. Chun-Li, the game's lone female character, nearly came with a shorter health meter because one game developer felt a woman character should be weaker than the men.
Street Fighter II

The video game magazine Polygon recently published a fascinating oral history of the creation of Street Fighter II, the glitchy, addictive, incredibly influential arcade game from the 1990s created by Capcom. The story rounded up all of the game's developers and artists and programmers — a group of eccentrics from America and Japan who sound like they were a bunch of HR nightmares. But despite all this, the game became a monster hit:

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Sunday Puzzle
5:51 am
Sun March 16, 2014

Two Is Company, But Three Is A Crowd

NPR

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 9:32 am

On-air challenge: A series of paired words will be provided. For each pair, think of a third word that can follow the first one and precede the second to complete a familiar two-word phrase. Every answer starts with "W." Example: Open and Awake; Answer: Wide.

Last week's challenge: This puzzle was created by Will Shortz for an event held recently at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City. Take the name of a classical Greek mathematician. The letters in his name can be rearranged to spell two numbers. What are they?

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Author Interviews
5:51 am
Sun March 16, 2014

'Rebel Music': When Hip-Hop Met Islam

Hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa at a press conference in 2006. His Zulu Nation group, formed in the 1970s to combat street violence, soon began incorporating Nation of Islam teachings in its rhetoric.
Scott Gries Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 1:03 pm

Hisham Aidi's new book is a sort of musical tour around the world. It's called Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture. From hip-hop in Brazilian favelas, to Pakistani punk rock, to Gnawa-reggae in North Africa, it's a look at young urban Muslims and the music they make and listen to.

Speaking with NPR's Rachel Martin, Aidi recalls meeting a French band called 3ème Oeil — "Third Eye" — at a music festival in the Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop.

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Book Reviews
5:38 am
Sun March 16, 2014

The Lively Linguistical Exuberance Of 'Being Blue'

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:06 am

LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This review contains language some readers may find offensive.

First published in 1976 and now reissued by NYRB Classics, On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry is an exploration of color and language, a celebration of the written and the spoken. In the hands of a novelist like William H. Gass, blue becomes everything there is to know about the world. "Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings, the language of birds, bees, and flowers as sung by longshoremen." For starters, yes.

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You Must Read This
3:14 am
Sun March 16, 2014

A Circle Of Spies Hit The Road, Filling A 'Dossier' Of Mystery

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 7:43 am

A few years ago, I spent the winter in Germany, teaching at Leipzig University. I'd never taught before, and it was exciting, particularly because one of the classes I'd come up with was a survey course on spy novels. The class filled up quickly — those resourceful Leipzig students recognized an easy A when they saw it — and I was eager to share the best of an often-maligned genre with them. We looked at W. Somerset Maugham's Ashenden stories, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Len Deighton, and Alan Furst.

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Author Interviews
5:45 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Why'd The Scientist Cross The Road? To Figure Out Why You're Laughing

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 4:03 pm

Here's a joke: A man is sitting on the porch with his wife one night when, out of the blue he says, "I love you." His wife says, "Was that you? Or was that the beer talking?" The man says, "That was me — talking to the beer."

Maybe you laughed at that and maybe you didn't, but either way, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems wants to know whether you found it funny. In his new book HA! Weems explores the science "of when we laugh and why."

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sat March 15, 2014

A Delicate Arson: 'The Blazing World' Consumes Its Readers

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:06 am

Every now and again I come across a book that makes me wish to do violence to my learning, to tear away words like tour de force and magnificent in order to excavate something more true, more raw, more appropriate to the experience of reading it. Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World is such a book. Like fire, it feeds as it consumes: It gives off the warmth and light by which to read, understand, marvel at it — but in order to do so it absorbs the reader's gaze, knowledge and attention and combusts them, transforms them into the brightness by which it is read.

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Pop Culture
3:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

'Baby Jane' Holzer's Flight From High Society To Warhol Superstar

Socialite and actress Baby Jane Holzer, seen here in 1966, was one of artist Andy Warhol's first superstars.
Harry Benson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 11:49 am

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Author Interviews
3:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

A Tragic Disappearance (Mostly) Solved In 'Savage Harvest'

Courtesy of HarperCollins

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 9:32 am

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This Week's Must Read
3:46 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Malaysia Flight 370 And The World's Attention

A Vietnamese Air Force plane returns from a search operation over Vietnam's southern sea.
HOANG DINH NAM AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

It's been a week since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a week filled with misinformation, wild theorizing and the anxiety of the passengers' families. The story, and especially its lack of information, has the world watching and wondering.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
2:51 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Not My Job: Wing-Suit Explorer Joby Ogwyn Gets Quizzed On Wings (The Band)

Joby Ogwyn jumps over the peaks of the Matterhorn in Switzerland in 2009.
Discovery Channel

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 10:55 am

In May, the Discovery Channel will be broadcasting live as Joby Ogwyn climbs to the summit of Mount Everest, and then jumps off it, descending 10,000 feet in a wing suit.

As this is clearly the last chance we have to talk to him while he's still alive, we've invited him to play a game called "Band on the Run." Three questions about Wings, Paul McCartney's lesser-known band.

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The Salt
2:31 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Companies Tap Celebrity Power For Extreme Vegetable Makeover

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 9:31 pm

Marketing to kids may have gotten a bad rap in the past. Especially since children have been the target of so much junk food advertising.

But it's a new day.

Increasingly, companies are seeing profits pushing ultra-healthy stuff. And they're not using a finger-wagging, guilt-ridden, eat-your-veggies-because-they're-good-for-you messaging.

Birds Eye is taking a page from the playbook of other companies that have had success leveraging the power of teen pop stars: The frozen food giant is turning to Disney.

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Remembrances
2:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

A Fond Farewell For The Voice That Welcomed Viewers To Theaters

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Voiceover artist Hal Douglas died recently at age 89. Filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski discusses the life and work of the prolific speaker, who narrated thousands of movie trailers in a gravelly baritone.

News
2:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Tell Your Bestie: The OED Has New Words

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

The Oxford English Dictionary is adding some 900 new words and phrases to its pages, with wackadoodle, bestie and DIYer among them. Melissa and Robert review some of the new entries.

Television
9:33 am
Fri March 14, 2014

NBC Hostage Drama 'Crisis' Takes Viewers On A Rare TV Trip

Lance Gross plays Marcus Finley. Think of him as the show's Jack Bauer.
Vivian Zink NBC

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 2:44 pm

When I slipped in the preview DVD to watch the opening episodes of NBC's new drama series Crisis, which premieres Sunday, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. Oh, there was some anticipation in seeing Gillian Anderson of The X-Files in a series lead again; but I wasn't sure whether we'd be getting the demand-your-attention actress from such marvelous British imports as Great Expectations and Bleak House, or the underused supporting actress from NBC's Hannibal.

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Why Can't We Talk About An Injustice?

"It makes sense to fight for peace and justice and to protect basic human rights and dignity." —Bryan Stevenson
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:55 pm

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Bryan Stevenson's TED Talk

Lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about how America's criminal justice system works against the poor and people of color. He argues that these issues are wrapped up in America's unexamined history.

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Is The Law Making Us Less Free?

"We need to rewrite and radically simplify and re-humanize the structure of public law in our society." —Philip K. Howard
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:32 pm

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Philip K. Howard's TED Talk

Lawyer Philip K. Howard says the U.S. has become a legal minefield — especially for teachers and doctors, whose work has been paralyzed by fear of lawsuits.

About Philip K. Howard

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

What If Our Health Care System Kept Us Healthy?

"We all harbor one fiercely held aspiration for our health care: that it keep us healthy." —Rebecca Onie
Courtesy of TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:53 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Rebecca Onie's TED Talk

Health advocate Rebecca Onie describes how our health care system can be restructured to prevent — and not just treat — illness.

About Rebecca Onie

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Has Money Taken Over American Politics?

"There is no sensible reform possible until we end this corruption." —Lawrence Lessig
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:34 pm

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Lawrence Lessig's TED Talk

Legal scholar Lawrence Lessig says corruption is at the heart of American politics. He says the campaign funding process weakens democracy and he issues a bipartisan call for change.

About Lawrence Lessig

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Monkey See
6:41 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Naked And The Nerds

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

A while ago, we devoted a segment to the matter of profanity, and now, as summer follows spring and spring (supposedly) follows winter, we are moving on to the issue of nudity. When is it decorative? When is it exploitation? And how would they see all of this from Europe?

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The Two-Way
6:15 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Book News: Children's Books From North Korean Dictators?

Kim Jong Il (right) and his father, Kim Il Sung, are pictured on what is believed to be Paekdoo San, a mountain located along the Sino-North Korean border in this image released by the North Korean news agency in 1994.
AP

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Author Interviews
3:16 am
Fri March 14, 2014

In 2009, 3 Americans Went For A Hike, And Ended Up In A Tehran Prison

Joshua Fattal (from left), Sarah Shourd and Shane Bauer were on a hike in 2009 when they unknowingly crossed a road that bordered to Iran. They were stopped by border patrol and imprisoned in Tehran.
Mia Nakano Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 9:27 am

In the summer of 2009, three young Americans went for a hike. Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were living together in Syria, teaching and writing. Their friend Josh Fattal was visiting from the U.S. The three took a tour to a waterfall in the Kurdish highlands of Iraq, and as they hiked along a road that turned out to be the border with Iran, an armed man in uniform waved them over.

The next thing they knew, they had embarked on a two-year ordeal in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran. They join NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about their new memoir, A Sliver of Light.

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Pop Culture
1:26 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Forget Nancy Drew: Thanks To Fans, 'Veronica Mars' Is Back On The Case

In the movie, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a recent law school grad living in New York when an old flame — Logan Echolls — calls her back to her home town of Neptune, Calif.
Robert Voets Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 3:03 pm

When Rob Thomas created Veronica Mars, his show about a sharp-elbowed girl detective, he had an ulterior motive: He wanted to kill off the reigning queen of teenaged sleuths — one who's been around for more than 80 years.

"Nancy Drew," Thomas says, his soft-spoken affect barely betrayed by a trace of a snarl. "Like, I feel like she had her run."

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Movie Reviews
4:13 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

In LA's Iranian Set, A Two-Sided Love Triangle With A Side Of Clichés

Nazanin Boniadi (left) occasionally lights up the screen as the lovestruck Shirin, but in the end her performance is hemmed in by the flatness of the film she anchors.
Katrina Wan PR

There's a lot that needs forgiving if you want to enjoy the few simple pleasures offered by Shirin In Love, but the most egregious fault is perhaps too structural to overlook: The love triangle set up for the title character (Nazanin Boniadi) by writer-director Ramin Niami angles too obviously in one direction. The end result is too much of a foregone conclusion even for a predictable romantic comedy.

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Movie Reviews
3:27 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Twins Or 'Enemy' — And What Could It All Mean?

Jake Gyllenhaal acts with stunning control and specificity in his double role as two lookalikes.
Courtesy of A24

Strange and stylish and surpassingly dark, Denis Villeneuve's Enemy — especially paired with the same director's recent cop thriller Prisoners — makes a strong case for star Jake Gyllenhaal as maybe our most enigmatic young leading man.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Sex, Smokes, And Deneuve On The Move

In a twist of sorts on the typical male- or youth-driven road movie, Catherine Deneuve plays an older woman playing young.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 3:13 am

Unhinged by crises both monetary and amorous, a provincial Frenchwoman tells the employees at her restaurant, "I'll be back." Then she takes off in her ancient rattletrap with no escape plan beyond an illicit smoke and a drive to clear her addled head. Turns out she'll be gone a while.

Yes, there's a road movie in Bettie's cards. Yes, there will be formative ordeals. And yes, the payoff will be uplift, along with one of those toothsome al fresco country lunches where Mediterranean types wave their arms around and argue in friendly fashion.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

'Big Men,' Doing Big Business In Africa's Oil Fields

The big men at the center of Big Men are public, private and everything in between.
Jonathan Furmanski Abramorama

There are three categories of schemers in Big Men, Rachel Boynton's illuminating documentary about the oil business in West Africa: businessmen, politicians and bandits. Sometimes, though, it's hard to tell the types apart.

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