Arts/Life

Remembrances
8:55 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Nigeria's Outspoken Writer Chinua Achebe Dies At 82

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, who played a critical role in establishing post-colonial African literature, has died. The author of Things Fall Apart was 82.

The Two-Way
6:28 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Author Of 'Things Fall Apart,' Dies

Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe in January 2009.
Abayomi Adeshida AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:45 am

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Lagos, Nigeria, on the death of one of Africa's greatest contemporary writers. Quoting his publisher, AP, CNN, and the BBC are reporting Chinua Achebe has died.

Chinua Achebe who taught at colleges in the United States made literary history with his 1958 best-seller Things Fall Apart, a sobering tale about Nigeria at the beginning of its colonization.

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The Two-Way
5:54 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Book News: Newly Found Oscar Wilde Letter: 'Sacrifice For Your Art'

Playwright Oscar Wilde poses in an 1882 photo.
New York Public Library, Sarony ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 7:05 am

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

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Movie Interviews
10:03 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Tina Fey, Movie Star? Not Quite Yet, She Says

Tina Fey stars as Princeton University admissions counselor Portia Nathan in the new comedy Admission. Fey says the movie's frankly manic depiction of the college application melee appealed to her.
David Lee Focus Features

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 8:55 am

Writer, actor and producer Tina Fey stars in a new movie out today called Admission, a film that's nominally about getting into college. Fey plays an admissions officer at Princeton University, one of those diligent bureaucrats who cull thousands of applications in search of a small cadre of brilliant young people who will be the freshman class.

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Ask Me Another
5:16 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Movie Favorites: Act III

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 9:16 am

It's the final act of Ask Me Another's collection of favorite movie games. Find out what gets lost in translation when American movies go global. We wonder if it's true what they say: is there really no such thing as an original idea? And we wrap things up by examining films with hilarious subtitles. Air Bud: Golden Receiver, anyone? Ophira Eisenberg and puzzle gurus Art Chung and Will Hines take you through "Movies In Other Languages," "All Movies Are The Same" and "Electric Boogaloo."

Ask Me Another
5:16 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Movie Favorites: Act I

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 9:15 am

Ask Me Another goes Hollywood with an hour of games and puzzles inspired by Tinseltown. Ever think that Gone With the Wind should really be a TV series, and each episode should start with Rhett, Scarlett and friends at a coffee shop? If so, play along as host Ophira Eisenberg leads "Small Screen Adaptation." Plus, we rework some movie theme songs in the style of Randy Newman in "Let's Get Randy," with a cameo appearance by music duo Paul and Storm.

Ask Me Another
5:16 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Movie Favorites: Act II

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 9:17 am

We continue the hour of our favorite games about the silver screen. Can you think of a movie that does not star Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, or Anthony Hopkins? Go on, name one; or just play along with "He Was In That?" Then guess the titles of mashed-up movie plots in "Double Feature." Plus, it seems even movie monsters have a hard time finding love — so we make Godzilla an online dating profile in a game called "E-Horror-Mony." Join host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton as they lead the show.

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Movie Reviews
4:37 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

'The Croods': 3-D Cartoon Cavemen For The Whole Family

The prehistoric family in The Croods takes a visually stunning but comically tired road trip in the latest outing from DreamWorks Animation.
20th Century Fox

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 5:17 pm

The makers of the animated Vikings comedy How to Train Your Dragon have come up with an animated caveman comedy that might as well be titled How to Train Your Father. Instead, they've called it The Croods, and centered it on a cavegirl named Eep (Emma Stone) who has a dad she sees — entirely accurately, let's note — as a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal.

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Movie Reviews
3:08 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

An 'Admission' That Moms Might Not Know Best

High-strung Princeton University admissions counselor Portia (Tina Fey) finds old love — and a surrendered child — when she visits the Vermont prep school where old schoolmate John (Paul Rudd) is a teacher.
David Lee Focus Features

Half an hour into Paul Weitz's new comedy, Admission, it dawned on me that I was watching an Americanized About a Boy -- which admittedly was also directed by Weitz. Both movies are adapted from other people's novels; both cobble together families out of the waifs and strays of modern life.

But where About a Boy was both funny and wise about urban alienation, Admission settles for skin deep.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

'No Place On Earth': Underground, A Story Of Survival

Sam and Saul Stermer, members of a family who hid in an underground Ukrainian cave in the early days of World War II, return to the hideout in No Place on Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Christopher Nicola, the avid spelunker who introduces No Place on Earth, has an appetite for the dramatic.

"Every cave I enter has a secret," he intones, as the documentary cuts between Nicola's New York City home and his progress through tight underground passages.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

A 'Devil' In The Details Of A Brotherly Rivalry

Brothers Rash and Mo (James Floyd and Fady Elsayed) live in the rough working-class London neighborhood of Hackney — but which sibling is the titular designee in My Brother the Devil gets harder and harder to determine as the film goes on.
108 Media

Shot entirely in Hackney — a mostly ungentrified London borough — My Brother the Devil has a strong odor of authenticity. The main characters are of Egyptian origin, but their friends include people rooted in West Africa and the Caribbean. All are linked by poverty, alienation and a gangsta worldview popularized by American movies and hip-hop.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

'Spring Breakers': A Square Trip To The Seamy Side

The girls of Spring Breakers (from left, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine and Selena Gomez) live in the kind of fluorescent world where skimpy bathing suits fit within court appearance dress codes.
A24

In the '70s and even into the '80s, exploitation movies used to come to us naked and innocent, rarely pretending to be anything more than what they were. Now, pictures intent on delivering cheap thrills tend to arrive dressed in art-house costumes, much like the ones Harmony Korine's killer college girls wear in his arch little sociological study, Spring Breakers.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

'Gimme The Loot': The Tagger's Life, Lightly

Sofia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) are two hardworking graffiti artists with a romantic chemistry that only they don't notice in Gimme the Loot.
Sundance Selects

For the Bronx graffiti artists of Gimme the Loot, Adam Leon's sweet, vibrant debut feature, "Bombing the Apple" is the holy grail of tagging achievements.

"The Apple" in question is the protuberance that emerges from behind the center-right wall in Shea Stadium — they refuse to acknowledge the corporate name Citi Field — every time a New York Mets player hits a home run.

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Television
11:54 am
Thu March 21, 2013

You Can't Trust HBO's 'Phil Spector,' But You Can Enjoy It

Helen Mirren and Al Pacino star in the new HBO film Phil Spector, which was written and directed by David Mamet.
Phil Caruso HBO Films

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 12:37 pm

The HBO movie Phil Spector is a production that demands attention because of the heavyweight names attached. First, of course, there's the subject of the drama: Spector himself, the man who invented the "wall of sound," and recorded hits for everyone from the Crystals, Darlene Love and Ike & Tina Turner to the Beatles and the Righteous Brothers. Oh, and who also went on trial, in 2007, for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

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Movie Interviews
10:00 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Director Fuqua Melds Timely Plot, 'Dream' Cast In 'Olympus'

Angela Bassett portrays Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs and Morgan Freeman is acting President/Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull in Olympus Has Fallen.
Philip Caruso Film District

In director Antoine Fuqua's new action thriller, Olympus Has Fallen, the White House — code-named "Olympus" — is invaded by North Korean terrorists. The president and his staff are held hostage in an underground bunker, and their only hope of coming out alive is a disgraced Secret Service agent.

In theaters March 22, the film opens at a politically sensitive time, perhaps by coincidence. North Korea is much in the news for its nuclear threats and its rocky relationship with South Korea.

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Monkey See
9:48 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Here We Go Again: Leno, Fallon, And Why The Late-Night Wars Are So Boring

Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon pose in the press room during the Golden Globe Awards in January.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

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The Two-Way
5:32 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Book News: Is Amazon Building A CIA Cloud?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils new Kindle reading devices at a press conference in 2012.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 11:44 am

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

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First Reads
5:03 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Exclusive First Read: 'The Burgess Boys,' By Elizabeth Strout

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 6:16 am

  • Listen to the Excerpt

Elizabeth Strout's newest book begins with crime. Zach, the youngest member of the Burgess family, throws a severed pig's head through the front door of a mosque in his quiet, rural Maine town. The mosque is run by a recently arrived community of Somali immigrants, who have already faced some hostility from the town. Everyone is shocked, but no one more so than Zach himself.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Mojo, Music And Semi-Divine Sibling Rivalry In 'Sister Mine'

It's like this: Makeda is trying to make a clean break from her old life by getting a super's gig in a bohemian Toronto warehouse of artsy up-and-comers. And it won't be easy — she's still riddled with guilt and uncertainty, after having struggled for years to care for her bedridden father and to get out from under the shadow of her twin sister, Abby, who's kind of a diva and has a lot of pull in the family.

The family of gods, that is.

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Poetry
1:06 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Revisiting Iraq Through The Eyes Of An Exiled Poet

Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi-American poet who teaches in Michigan. She has published five books in Arabic and two in English.
Michael Smith Courtesy of Dunya Mikhail

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 7:45 am

Poet Dunya Mikhail fled her homeland, Iraq, a few years after the first Gulf War. She had been questioned by Saddam Hussein's government, and state media had labeled her writing and poetry subversive. Mikhail escaped to Jordan and eventually reached the United States, where she made a home for herself — marrying, raising a daughter and becoming a U.S. citizen.

Mikhail never physically returned to Iraq. But she revisits her homeland again and again in her poetry — line by line, stanza by stanza.

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The Two-Way
2:42 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Sketches From A War-Torn World: A British Illustrator In Syria

Ahmed, 10, was rocketed on Feb. 13., and lost his leg. There doesn't seem anything more mundane than drawing when you are standing next to a child that has lost his mother, his brother and his leg within the last 48 hours His father, Yassar's face, raked with worry sits in a clinic at Bab al Hawa. He keeps pulling his adult sized oxygen mask off his little face.
Courtesy of George Butler

George Butler lives between two worlds. One is his apartment in London, and the other consists of conflict-ravaged places like West Africa, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Syria.

The British illustrator recently returned from his second trip to Syria, and his reportage illustrations are a powerful account of life in the country's north, where the fighting is heavy and rebels now control many areas.

The illustrations are not just about the sorrows and pain of Syrian refugees and the wounded, but often about Syrians' stubborn insistence that life will carry on despite the pain.

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Author Interviews
11:06 am
Wed March 20, 2013

'Sex And The Citadel' Peeks Inside Private Lives In The Arab World

Shereen El Feki is the author of Sex and the Citadel.
Kristof Arasim Pantheon

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 12:49 pm

"I know of young women who have been returned to their families by their husbands because, as you say, they did not bleed on defloweration," Shereen El Feki tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

El Feki, the author of the new book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, spent five years traveling across the Arab region asking people about sex: what they do, what they don't, what they think and why.

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World
10:26 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Imperfect Gentlemen Says Being Persian Is Hip

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 7:33 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You can find our next guest on most Monday nights at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, where he is part of Comedy Bazaar and he offers his signature riffs on his particularly interesting cross-cultural dilemmas.

TEHRAN VON GHASRI: My name is Tehran. It's like the capital city of Iran. You're, like, wondering, what were my parents thinking, naming me Tehran, right? But I'm half black, half Iranian, which comes with a lot of advantages. I have a lot of fun at the airport. It's true. Homeland Security knows me on a first name basis.

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Monkey See
9:48 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Men Are From Mars, Women ... Love Cup Holders?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 10:37 am

When you read the words of Clotaire Rapaille, a "French-born psychiatrist-turned-marketer" quoted in yesterday's interesting Slate article about the marketing of cars to women, it's hard not to read them in a voice that's sultry and French and not entirely serious, as if he's some kind of sales expert crossed with Pepe Le Pew (despite the fact that this doubtless has no basis in reality).

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Kitchen Window
7:27 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Lard And Schmaltz Make A Comeback In The Kitchen

This version of Matzo Ball Soup is made with rendered chicken fat, or schmaltz.
Peter Ogburn for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 11:53 am

I grew up in the South, where every home cook I admired kept a can of bacon grease in the refrigerator. That grease was used to launch many fine dishes. One friend's mother made biscuits with butter and bacon fat. Needless to say, I was a husky child.

Now, after years in culinary exile, lard is staging a comeback.

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The Two-Way
5:42 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Book News: Jane Goodall Apologizes For Lifted Passages In Her New Book

Primatologist Jane Goodall observes chimpanzees in 1997 at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary near Nanyuki, north of Nairobi, Kenya.
Jean-Marc Bouju AP

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 11:56 am

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

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Tigers, Scholars And Smugglers, All 'At Home' In Sprawling Novel

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 11:04 am

It's difficult to predict the reception Where Tigers Are at Home will receive in the United States. The winner of France's Prix Medicis in 2008, this big, sprawling novel (in a translation by Mike Mitchell) comes to us from Algerian-born writer, philosopher and world traveler Jean-Marie Blas de Robles, author of more than a dozen works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. This book — the first of his to appear in the U.S. in English — stands as a challenge to readers who want their fiction to offer a quick pay-off.

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Author Interviews
12:11 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Veterans Face Red Tape Accessing Disability, Other Benefits

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 3:05 pm

Ten years ago, the United States invaded Iraq and began what the Bush administration said would be a short war.

But it wasn't until December 2011 that the United States officially ended its military mission there.

In addition to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died, the war cost the lives of nearly 4,500 American service members, and wounded more than 32,200 men and women in America's military. Many of the wounded vets have faced — or are still facing — long waits for their disability and other benefits to begin.

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Music Reviews
11:17 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Justin Timberlake Returns To Music With Enthusiasm And 'Experience'

The 20/20 Experience is Justin Timberlake's first album since 2006.
Tom Monro RCA

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:03 am

The orchestral swirls, the transition to a soul-man groove, the falsetto croon — there you have some of the key elements to Justin Timberlake's album The 20/20 Experience. The title implies a certain clarity of vision, even as any given song presents the singer as a starry-eyed romantic, bedazzled by a woman upon whom he cannot heap enough compliments, come-ons and seductive playfulness.

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Books
10:12 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Hemon's 'The Book Of My Lives': Finding Beauty In Sarajevo's Scars

Aleksandar Hemon is also the author of Nowhere Man.
Velibor Bozovic Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 12:47 pm

The war in Bosnia left Sarajevo ruined by siege scars. Aleksandar Hemon describes in his new memoir how "the streets were fractured by mortar-shell marks — lines radiating from a little crater at the point of impact." But he notes that those holes were later "filled out with red paint" and that "the people of Sarajevo now, incredibly, called [them] 'roses.' "

The same could be said about the essays that make up The Book of My Lives, Hemon's first book of nonfiction, a collection of thorned, blood-red roses that make beauty out of his broken past.

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