Arts/Life

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
11:46 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Former Talk Show Host Dick Cavett Plays Not My Job

Carlos Rene Perez AP

Originally published on Sat May 5, 2012 9:48 am

Former TV talk show host Dick Cavett was born and raised in Nebraska, where he was encouraged to pursue the trade that had brought his family to the prairie years before: interviewing celebrities. The Emmy-winning television personality hosted a plethora of big names over the years, including Gore Vidal, Groucho Marx, Muhammid Ali and John Lennon.

We ask this legitimate name-dropper about three real people whose names are remarkably descriptive of who they are.

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Movie Reviews
5:04 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Keeping The Faith With A Less Than 'Perfect Family'

When Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner) is nominated for Catholic Woman of the Year — an honor that comes with a personal prayer of absolution from an archbishop — she feels she has to hide what she sees as flaws in her daughter (Emily Deschanel), son (Jason Ritter) and husband (Michael McGrady).
Variance Films

Guilt can be a powerful force. In The Perfect Family, it's also a self-perpetuating one. Director Anne Renton's film puts on display a woman so obsessed with her place in the afterlife that for a guarantee of absolution, she's willing to engage in morally questionable activities that are bound to cause her even greater guilt.

If that sounds like a cutting critique of organized religion and situational morality, not quite: Renton's approach is, to its benefit, fair and never strident. But it's also gentle and cautious, often to a fault.

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Performing Arts
4:14 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Composing 'The News,' With A Musical Twist

In one section of JacobTV's The News, a 2008 Obama campaign speech becomes a hip-hop-inflected aria.
Kristien Kerstens, Jan Boiten JacobTV

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 6:03 pm

JacobTV cried censorship.

It was the autumn of 2011, and the Dutch avant-pop composer — real name Jacob ter Veldhuis — had arrived in Rome to discover that the gallery Maxxi Museo had yanked from its exhibition space a "video concerto" he'd created.

The cause? It featured former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denying charges of corruption, and the museum's curators were worried that was too provocative. They feared political repercussions.

"I felt betrayed," JacobTV says.

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Movie Interviews
2:04 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Actor Bill Nighy On Career, 'Marigold Hotel'

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 4:04 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Fans of British drama will find pleasure in a film arriving on these shores today. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" follows a group of British retirees who move to India looking for a more affordable life.

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Movie Interviews
9:56 am
Fri May 4, 2012

'Slumdog' Star Dev Patel Takes On Retirement Comedy

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. " href="/post/slumdog-star-dev-patel-takes-retirement-comedy" class="noexit lightbox">
Dev Patel as "Sonny" on the set of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Ishika Mohan Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 9:56 am

A new film takes a humorous look at retirement with an all-star lineup of veteran British actors. Opening in select U.S. cities Friday, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of British senior citizens who travel to Jaipur, India, hoping to spend their retirement years in an inexpensive but luxurious hotel. They quickly realize it's not quite the palace they saw in the brochure.

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Monkey See
9:48 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: It's Our Summer Movie Preview! Bring On The Sunscreen!

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in the upcoming film Dark Shadows.
Peter Mountain Warner Brothers Pictures
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

With The Avengers just opening in your local jillionplex, it seems like the right time to look ahead to summer movies and see what's on our radar, both good and bad. Dark Shadows, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World ... well, you'll hear them all.

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Movie Reviews
9:23 am
Fri May 4, 2012

A Gershwin Biopic That Ain't Necessarily So True

George Gershwin's most famous works include Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and the opera Porgy and Bess.
Warner Archives

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 1:58 pm

The movie Rhapsody in Blue, a biography of George Gershwin, was released only eight years after his death from a brain tumor at the age of 38. It's a good subject: Gershwin wrote some of the best popular songs ever produced in this country, but he also had ambitions to be a serious classical composer and wrote symphonic music, concertos and an opera — all of which are still performed.

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Author Interviews
8:58 am
Fri May 4, 2012

The U.S. Ambassador Inside Hitler's Berlin

Adolf Hitler (right) with his foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1941.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 9:23 am

This interview was originally broadcast on May 9, 2011. In The Garden Of Beasts is now available in paperback.

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NPR Story
8:02 am
Fri May 4, 2012

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Happiness is a universal desire that's often elusive.
Kudryashka Shutterstock

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 9:50 am

"The secret to happiness is realistic, modest expectations." — Barry Schwartz

Being happy is a universal human yearning, but this simple goal often eludes us. If we're truly able to attain happiness, then how do we find it? Three TED speakers offer some big ideas for achieving happiness.

TED Radio Hour
7:56 am
Fri May 4, 2012

What Does Spaghetti Have To Do With Happiness?

— Malcolm Gladwell" href="/post/what-does-spaghetti-have-do-happiness" class="noexit lightbox">
"In embracing the diversity of human beings, we will find a surer way to true happiness." — Malcolm Gladwell
Asa Mathat TED

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 8:03 am

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode "The Pursuit of Happiness." Watch Malcolm Gladwell's full TEDTalk, "Spaghetti Sauce," on TED.com.

About Malcolm Gladwell's TEDTalk

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Ask Me Another
7:43 am
Fri May 4, 2012

John Hodgman: How Much Does The Know-It-All Know?

Brantley Gutierrez Brantley Gutierrez

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 9:50 am

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Television
4:28 am
Fri May 4, 2012

'Sherlock' Leads Cumberbatch To Acclaimed Films

Benedict Cumberbatch (left) plays Sherlock Holmes alongside Martin Freeman's Dr. Watson in the BBC's Sherlock, which airs in the U.S. on PBS. He'll take on the role of Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit, and play a villain in an upcoming Star Trek film.
PBS

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 3:18 pm

Information that could ruin the British monarchy locked in a smartphone. A crime scene surveyed through the video camera of a laptop. A blogging Dr. Watson.

This is the world Sherlock Holmes inhabits in the BBC series Sherlock, a modern spin on the classic tales by Arthur Conan Doyle that reached American audiences in the fall of 2010. That's also when a lot of us were introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who plays Sherlock — and the purveyor of many an intense stare and quick calculation in that role.

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Movie Reviews
3:38 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Seven Dancers, Chasing Big Dreams At The Barre

First Position profiles dancers at the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious ballet contest. Rebecca Houseknecht, 17, is a dancer with a lot of talent — and a painful awareness that her chances of signing with a top company are growing slim.
Bess Kargman IFC Films

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 3:54 pm

One of the most striking moments early in the documentary First Position comes when a talented ballet student, an 11-year-old boy named Aran, inserts his foot into a sort of clamp that holds it in a mercilessly pointed position.

"This is a foot stretcher," he says. "Hurts a lot."

It's curious that an entire genre of documentary has grown up around endearing kids being pushed hard to achieve in various fields — pushed so hard that the audience is left to wonder whether the pressure might be too much for them.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

For Americans' Water, It's 'Last Call At The Oasis'

In building its case for the need to address flaws in current water management practices, the documentary Last Call at the Oasis shows the negative effects of such systems on communities, including this dry lake in Australia.
Participant Media

Eco-aware filmgoers won't learn much from Last Call at the Oasis, which follows the paths of such well-known water activists as Erin Brockovich. But writer-director Jessica Yu's documentary may be slick enough to reach people who aren't already familiar with such substances as "new water," atrazine and hexavalent chromium.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

A 'Superhero' At The End Of His Powers

Facing terminal cancer, 15-year-old Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) escapes into drawing comic-book art and imagining himself an invulnerable superhero.
Tribeca Film

There are no three words less likely to inspire a fun time at the movies than "kid with cancer." And yet here is Death of a Superhero, the second film in less than a year with that log line — and the second one that manages to turn the grimmest of grim subjects into something charming, raunchy and improbably uplifting.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': Retirement, Outsourced

Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy play British retirees in residence at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. While advertisements promised a life of leisure in a newly refurbished facility, the Brits arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self.
Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 1:24 pm

Outsourcing gets a new twist in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a likable if market-driven ensemble comedy about a pack of cash-poor British elders who ship out for India, hoping for one last stab at self-renewal in a supposedly glam hotel.

The lonely seniors have two things in common: the usual big-screen bucket-list array of wishes for love, sex, closure and adventure — or at a minimum, retirement without total penury — and the fact that they're all played by the cream of today's British acting talent, albeit mostly operating below full steam.

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Monkey See
2:02 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Implausibles, Assemble!: Other Hollywood Character Pile-Ups We'd Like To See

Rene Mansi iStockphoto.com

The Avengers is getting a lot of mileage out of uniting the stars of several different films for one big, knock-down-drag-out superfilm in which there are so many people floating in from hither and yon that you would be forgiven for expecting a cameo from Plastic Man. (There isn't one.)

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The Salt
1:36 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

How To Tip-Toe Into The Hot Sauce Craze

Tami Franklin tries a variety of hot sauces on her barbecue ribs at Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company in Arlington, Va.
John Rose NPR

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:43 am

If you listen to my story above, you'll know that hot sauce production is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

And you'll learn that research finds chili-heads — people who love the burn of spicy food — tend to have a penchant for sensation-seeking. Think rollercoasters and action flicks.

So you wanna jump in, but you're new to the hot sauce world?

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Movie Reviews
12:57 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

'The Avengers': Superheroic Popcorn Fun At Its Best

promo
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:43 am

That crashing sound you'll hear emanating from cineplexes this weekend will be the sound of comic-book superheroes smashing box-office records.

Actually, the smashing started last weekend, when Marvel's The Avengers opened in 39 territories around the world, scooping up a cool $178 million in three days. And with legions of fans having already bought advance tickets in the U.S., it's a pretty sure bet the box-office bonanza will continue as the film opens in more than 4,000 North American theaters.

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TED Radio Hour
12:17 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Kathyrn Schulz: Why Should We Embrace Regret?

— Kathryn Schulz" href="/post/kathyrn-schulz-why-should-we-embrace-regret" class="noexit lightbox">
"Your own regrets may not be as ugly as you think they are." — Kathryn Schulz
Alan Klein TED

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 2:22 pm

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TED Radio Hour
12:17 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Does Having Options Make Us Happier?

— Barry Schwartz" href="/post/does-having-options-make-us-happier" class="noexit lightbox">
"The secret to happiness is realistic, modest expectations." — Barry Schwartz
Robert Leslie TED

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 8:02 am

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode "The Pursuit of Happiness." Watch Barry Schwartz's full TEDTalk -- "The Paradox of Choice" -- on TED.com.

About Barry Schwartz's TEDTalk

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Movie Reviews
9:54 am
Thu May 3, 2012

'The Avengers': A Marvel-ous Whedonesque Ride

Thor (Chris Hemsworth, left) and Captain America (Chris Evans) join up with Iron Man and the Hulk to save the Earth in The Avengers.
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 4:29 pm

Two spheres merge in The Avengers: the Marvel Comics universe and the Whedonverse, fans' name for the nerdy wisecracking existentialist superhero world of writer-director Joss Whedon.

The Whedon cult is smaller but maybe more fervent, inspiring academic conferences on such subjects as free will vs. determinism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I find a lot of Whedon's banter self-consciously smart-alecky, but I love how he can spoof his subjects without robbing them of stature.

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Studio Sessions
9:48 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Frédéric Yonnet: Don't Underestimate The Harmonica

Frédéric Yonnet plays a song from his working album Reed My Lips: The Rough Cut.
Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 12:20 pm

When it comes to the harmonica, some people may think of honky-tonks, country music and the blues. But Frédéric Yonnet is giving it an urban jazz feel. The French-born musician is known for his dynamic and energetic performances, and has collaborated with the likes of Prince, Stevie Wonder and John Legend. He's currently working on his album Reed My Lips: The Rough Cut.

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Food
9:48 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Cinco De Mayo: Excuse To Indulge In Tacos, Salsa?

As the Mexican holiday approaches this weekend, host Michel Martin and writer Gustavo Arellano look at America's layered relationship with Mexican culture and food.

Television
9:47 am
Thu May 3, 2012

The Man Who Revitalized 'Doctor Who' And 'Sherlock'

Steven Moffat is the co-creator of Sherlock. He's also the lead writer and executive producer for the British science-fiction TV show Doctor Who.
Toby Canham Getty

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 10:35 am

TV writer and producer Steven Moffat specializes in injecting new life into old, familiar characters and stories. He first worked his magic on the revived edition of Doctor Who, leading to several BAFTA and Hugo Awards for the series.

More recently, he has turned his eye to the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes. As the co-creator of the critically acclaimed BBC series Sherlock, Moffat is responsible for updating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous fictional creation for a modern-day audience.

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Television
9:40 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Julia Louis-Dreyfus: From 'Seinfeld' To 'Veep'

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won several awards, including Emmy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe.
Melanie Acevedo Courtesy of Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 10:35 am

Julia Louis-Dreyfus will forever be known to millions as Elaine Benes, the character she played for nine seasons on Seinfeld. But she was also an early cast member of Saturday Night Live, and she won the Emmy for Best Comedy Actress while starring in the CBS series The New Adventures of Old Christine, which ran for five seasons after Seinfeld.

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Monkey See
8:50 am
Thu May 3, 2012

It's Kentucky Derby Weekend: Name Your Hypothetical Horse

Horses train on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Rob Carr Getty Images

I am guessing that the majority of you do not own thoroughbred horses. In fact, that is the underlying assumption of this entire post, and to the degree it does not apply to you, I offer humblest apologies (your highness).

But this is the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, which I normally appreciate primarily for the way it causes everyone to momentarily forget everything they ever knew about what constitutes Too Much Hat.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu May 3, 2012

'Almost Invisible': New Poems From Mark Strand

Knopf

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:07 am

American poetry's recognition of the prosaicness — if not profanity — of our age and culture takes many forms. Poets embrace pop or pursue the workings of the mind with what Robert Bly called associative leaping. They examine rhetoric by mashing up archaisms with the hypernew. They resist poetry's traditional resistance to technology, fashion, advertising or fad — or they follow someone like Ashbery into poetic abstraction.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu May 3, 2012

'Newlyweds': A Big, Fat Cross-Cultural Marriage

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 3:27 pm

American literature is rich with books that illuminate our culture from an immigrant's fresh perspective. The most powerful tend to be written by the newcomers themselves, or their offspring, but there are exceptions. Nell Freudenberger's latest novel, The Newlyweds, is about a young Bangladeshi woman determined to find a better life by marrying an American she meets on a dating website. Coming from a native New Yorker, it's an act of sustained, cross-cultural ventriloquism and empathy.

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Commentary
1:02 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Watching 'The Avengers' In India, With A Twist

In The Avengers, the Hulk lives in Calcutta — and doesn't lose his temper over the city's traffic and other problems. That might not ring true to anyone who's been there, says Sandip Roy.
Marvel

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

When I went to see The Avengers the very day it was released, I texted a friend in San Francisco. It seems kind of unfair, I said, that because of the 12-hour time difference, I get to see The Avengers before you do.

Turns out I was a week off. The Avengers actually released in 39 countries around the world, including India, a week before it opens in America.

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