Arts/Life

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Assaying The Legacy Of 'The Big Screen'

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:56 am

"The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie," admits Binx Bolling, the hero of Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer. It's the same for a lot of us — cinema affects us in ways we don't always understand, and even the worst films appeal to our nostalgia and sense memories in manners that defy the normal rules of taste and logic. (Currently, on my DVR: La Dolce Vita, a classic I know I should see at some point, and Gymkata, a truly terrible 1985 martial-arts flick I've watched a dozen times.

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Monkey See
3:03 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Culture Yourself: October 17, 2012

iStockphoto.com

Each afternoon, we encourage you to put your feet up, relax, and check out some of the cultural coverage that might have slipped by during the day.

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Books
2:29 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Thousands Line Up For Rare Rowling Appearance

J.K. Rowling promotes her new novel, The Casual Vacancy, at Lincoln Center in New York. It was her only U.S. appearance.
Dan Hallman AP

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 5:09 pm

While much of America was watching the second presidential debate, about 2,000 people — many of them between the ages of 20 and 40 — were doing something very different. They had gotten a rare and prized ticket to the only U.S. appearance by J.K Rowling, as she promotes her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.

The crowd was huge but happy — double the number originally planned, forcing the organizers to change venues. Attendees got a ticket to the Lincoln Center event and a copy of the book, which Rowling would later sign.

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Monkey See
2:13 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Sometimes A Friend Is Just A Cigar: Why Not Everybody Needs To Kiss At The End

David Duchovny, left, and Gillian Anderson in the film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Diyah Pera AP

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:51 pm

This week at Monkey See, we're looking at friendship in pop culture.

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Television
1:34 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Jessica Lange, Back In Black For 'Horror Story'

Jessica Lange plays Sister Jude, a stern nun running an insane asylum, in the second season of American Horror Story.
FX

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 5:09 pm

To speak with Ryan Murphy about his show American Horror Story is to hear this declaration repeatedly: "She classes up the joint."

Murphy is referring to his star, Jessica Lange, who recently won an Emmy for her role in the show's first season. If you've been a fan of Lange's film career, from Tootsie to Frances to Blue Sky, you might wonder why this treasure of the American theater, this two-time Oscar winner, is slumming in a lurid cable TV horror show.

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Author Interviews
12:57 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

'Gershwins And Me' Tells The Stories Behind 12 Songs

Michael Feinstein (right) worked for six years as Ira Gershwin's cataloger and archivist.
Simon & Schuster

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 2:49 pm

Long before singer and pianist Michael Feinstein became famous in his own right, he had the privilege of working closely with legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin, as his archivist and cataloger. In his new book, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, Feinstein writes firsthand about the musical world of the American composers and brothers, George and Ira Gershwin.

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Monkey See
9:42 am
Wed October 17, 2012

See A Clip From The Outstanding 'Brooklyn Castle,' A Film About Chess And Life

The I.S. 318 chess team, featured in Brooklyn Castle.
BrooklynCastle.com

Brooklyn Castle, which I originally saw at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, is one of my favorite movies of the year. And starting this week, it's coming to theaters in select cities. (See a list of theaters here.)

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Monkey See
7:44 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Entirely Real Photos: It Is Possible That Jennifer Lopez Needs Less Wind Machine

Jennifer Lopez performs in Paris on Tuesday night.
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

I'm sure Jennifer Lopez knows exactly how much wind is flattering, far more than I do. I'm sure she has a Flattering Wind consultant, and possibly even a Flattering Wind Consultant Handler. ("Assistant To The Flattering Wind Consultant Handler: Coco Maribou. Assistant to Ms. Maribou...")

But honestly, I might have gone with 20 percent less gale force here.

Three Books...
7:03 am
Wed October 17, 2012

00110011: Three Books About The Data Around You

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:53 am

Everywhere you go, you are data. You purchase an apple and suddenly ones and zeros are racing through the clickstream like they're wearing superhero capes. Someone, somewhere now knows more about when people eat apples, the likelihood that you will purchase one again, how they correlate to your longevity, your salary, your risk of disease. You shape the universe as you go.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Collaboration Leaves Couple 'Drawn Together'

Liveright

What happens to underground artists after they step, blinking, into the harsh, flat light of the upper world? If they are Robert and Aline Crumb, not a whole hell of a lot — at least, not in their approach to their art. As amply demonstrated in Drawn Together, which collects comics the two cartoonists have created together since the late '70s, their specific subjects may change, but how they go about depicting those subjects — their shared impulse for autobiographical, self-deprecating logorrhea — remains constant.

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First Reads
5:03 am
Wed October 17, 2012

First Read: Barbara Kingsolver's 'Flight Behavior'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 9:05 am

  • Listen to the Excerpt

Dellarobia Turnbow, the smart-mouthed heroine of Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, is frustrated by her marriage to Cub, the boy who got her pregnant in high school, and by the grinding privation of life on her in-laws' failing farm. Kingsolver mixes a story of personal awakening with themes of environmental stewardship and climate change as a freak natural phenomenon begins to transform Dellarobia's life. This exclusive excerpt exhibits one of the book's pleasures — Kingsolver's closely observed depictions of rural life — as it introduces the main characters.

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Television
1:46 am
Wed October 17, 2012

TV Westerns Prove The West Is Still Fun

Sheriff Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid) and his brother, Jack Lamb (Jason O'Mara), investigate the murder of a craps dealer on Vegas.
Cliff Lipson CBS

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 6:31 am

From the first five minutes of Vegas, there's no mistaking its classic Western heritage — they even have Stetson-wearing heroes wrangling a herd of cattle on horseback.

The year is 1960, and nail-tough rancher Ralph Lamb has been talked into serving as the top cop in Las Vegas. Lamb's only problem: He's taking over just as the mob is trying to turn Vegas from a sleepy ranch town into the world's grown-up playground.

In Vegas, the white hats just want to run their ranches, while the black hats fight over money, gambling and power.

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Kitchen Window
4:42 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Dals: Simple Indian Comfort Food

Reem Rizvi for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 4:27 am

My first official kitchen chore, at the ripe age of 6, was to help Mom with the dal. It is one of the first dishes I learned to cook from her, and I still consider her the ultimate dal expert. Dal is sort of an umbrella term under which my family (and, I bet, most Indians) lump pulses and legumes such as lentils, beans and dried peas.

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Monkey See
3:41 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Culture Yourself: October 16, 2012

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 3:42 pm

It's only a minute long, but if you don't listen to the Morning Edition story about Snoop Dogg [Lion] hyping Hot Pockets, I don't know why we even bother knowing each other.

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The Two-Way
3:24 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Hilary Mantel Wins Man Booker Prize For 'Bring Up The Bodies'

Hilary Mantel, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, poses with her prize shortly after the award ceremony in London Tuesday. Mantel, won the 50,000 British pounds (approximately $80,000) prize with her book Bring up the Bodies.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 5:21 pm

"The whittling has finished," declared the website of the Man Booker Prize.

On Tuesday, judges awarded the prestigious literary award to Hilary Mantel for her historical novel Bring up the Bodies.

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Movie Reviews
3:13 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

'Holy Motors': An Odd, Lovely Love Letter To Cinema

Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) becomes many different characters over the course of Holy Motors.
Indomina Releasing

Holy Motors, the first full-length feature in 10 years from singular French filmmaker Leos Carax, is very much a love letter to movies. But this isn't a spot-the-references extravaganza; the more movies you've seen in your lifetime, the less sense Holy Motors is likely to make.

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Author Interviews
2:38 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

In A 'Dream,' Lincoln Checks In On State Of The Union

Roaring Book Press

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 8:48 am

With the country mired in a civil war, Abraham Lincoln had a lot on his mind, so it's not surprising that the 16th president experienced vivid, troubling dreams.

"He was haunted by his dreams," says author and illustrator Lane Smith. In one dream, Lincoln found himself aboard an indescribable vessel moving toward an indistinct shore, Smith tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "He had these dreams apparently several times before momentous events of the Civil War, and in fact he had it the night before he was assassinated."

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Monkey See
2:23 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

'We Killed': Women In Comedy, From Stand-Ups To Sitcoms

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 3:09 pm

We Killed: The Rise Of Women In American Comedy is a sprawling oral history that grew out of a Marie Claire piece. It has the loose structure of most similar books (of which there are more and more), though the introduction unfortunately ties it to the tired "women aren't funny" assertions that apparently we're not through talking about yet.

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The Salt
1:14 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Here's The Scoop On Cat Poop Coffee

The baristas at Chinatown Coffee in Washington, D.C., were suspicious of the dark color of the beans, but pleased with the taste.
Claire O'Neill NPR

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 2:03 pm

I can't remember when I first heard about what I affectionately refer to as "cat poop coffee." But I do remember not believing it was real. I'm still having a hard time, to be honest.

But cat poop coffee — that is, civet coffee (or "kopi luwak," as pronounced in Indonesian) — is real, and really expensive. Like $60 for 4 ounces of beans — or in some boutique cafes, at least $10 a cup. That's a bargain compared to what it costs for elephant poop coffee; but I digress.

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Books
11:03 am
Tue October 16, 2012

'Test Kitchen' Chefs Talk The Science Of Savory

Jack Bishop is the editorial director at America's Test Kitchen, where every day a near army of professional chefs test, test, then retest recipes to arrive at the best possible result.
Larry Crowe AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 2:22 pm

You might think that Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop — two of the culinary talents behind the public television shows America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country — would have their cooking techniques pretty much figured out. Think again.

For the new Cook's illustrated book The Science of Good Cooking, Bishop and Lancaster tested principles they assumed were true — and as Bishop tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Things that we thought were actually accurate turned out to be, perhaps, more complex."

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Monkey See
11:00 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Judd Apatow And Lena Dunham Talk About Comedy On 'Iconoclasts'

Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow appear on tonight's episode of Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel.
Sundance Channel

Tuesday night, the Sundance Channel series Iconoclasts pairs Lena Dunham with Judd Apatow for an interesting conversation about comedy.

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Monkey See
9:44 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Best Friends And Broken Hearts

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:43 pm

This week at Monkey See, we're looking at friendship in pop culture.

In the 1997 film My Best Friend's Wedding, Julianne (Julia Roberts) rushes to stop the wedding of her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) to the adorable Kimmy (Cameron Diaz). (Spoilers follow, so if you haven't been paying attention to cable for the last 15 years, take heed.)

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Monkey See
5:34 am
Tue October 16, 2012

A Judge Dismisses 'The Bachelor' Discrimination Lawsuit, But Not Its Concerns

Seen here in April 2012, Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks sued over the casting of The Bachelor.
Mark Humphrey AP

Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks, two black men who had auditioned for The Bachelor, who claimed that the show discriminates against people of color both in choosing the primary bachelor/ette and in choosing the people he or she will have to choose from.

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Books
5:03 am
Tue October 16, 2012

'Round House' Is One Of Erdrich's Best

Louise Erdrich's debut novel, Love Medicine, won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. Her other books include The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and The Plague of Doves.
Paul Emmel Harper

I've devoted many hours in my life to reading, and among these hours many of them belong to the creations of novelist Louise Erdrich. In more than a dozen books of fiction — mostly novel length — that make up a large part of her already large body of work, Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House. It's her latest novel, and, I would argue, her best so far.

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The Salt
1:03 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Urban Parisian Vines Produce Wine With A Drop Of History

Crowds watch as Clos Montmartre's grapes are harvested during its annual October wine festival.
Jacque Brinon AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 8:45 am

In America, vineyards are usually tucked in out-of-the-way rural areas, among country lanes. But in France, where great wine is a way of life, vineyards are everywhere — even in the middle of the country's biggest city.

High on the hills of the neighborhood of Montmartre in Paris is Clos Montmartre, the city's last working vineyard.

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Books
1:00 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Technology Helps Track A Terrorist In 'The Finish'

Anonymous AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 8:45 am

In late summer 2010, at the end of a morning briefing, one of President Obama's security advisers said, "Mr. President, Leon and the guys at Langley think they may have come up with something." The adviser was referring to then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, and to a possible lead on the country's most wanted terrorist: Osama bin Laden.

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Movie Interviews
3:36 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

In 'The Sessions,' A Different View Of The World

John Hawkes plays Mark O'Brien, a man who spends most of his life in an iron lung after suffering from polio, in The Sessions.
Sarah M. Golonka Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 4:46 pm

It's not easy for John Hawkes to watch clips of himself in his new movie, The Sessions. He plays a man named Mark O'Brien, based on a real writer and poet, who spends most of his time in an iron lung as a result of childhood polio; that meant the role was hard on Hawkes' body. As he tells Melissa Block on All Things Considered, "It was a physically painful role to play." Not only did it require him to act primarily from a horizontal position, but it called for him to create the illusion of a curved spine.

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The Salt
1:33 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Jerusalem: A Love Letter To Food And Memories Of Home

A boy chooses fruit from a stall as Jerusalem market vendors swirl around him.
Jonathan Lovekin Ten Speed Press

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 4:46 pm

Jerusalem is known for its bitter politics, a divided city where decades of religious and political strife have torn away shared spaces. But as British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi tells NPR's Melissa Block, if there's one place in which Jerusalemites of all stripes still stand united, it's in their love of food.

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Monkey See
12:32 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

'Beauty Is Embarrassing': Giant Puppets, Painted Words, And What Art Is All About

A giant LBJ puppet head is one of Wayne White's creations in the documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing.
Beauty Is Embarrassing

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 1:13 pm

I didn't actually know the name "Wayne White" when I went to see the documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing at Silverdocs this summer. But as it turns out, I've certainly seen his work, and even if, like me, you're not visual-arts-oriented enough to know his marvelous word paintings, you may have, too.

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Movie Interviews
12:32 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Tyler Perry Transforms: From Madea To Family Man

Tyler Perry is currently starring in the new action thriller Alex Cross, which opens in theaters on Friday.
Sidney Baldwin 2012 Summit Entertainment LLC

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 12:40 pm

Whenever Tyler Perry is in front of the camera, he's usually behind it as well. A screenwriter, director, producer and star, Perry grew up poor in New Orleans, but he has become a movie phenomenon — he was described in the New Yorker as the most financially successful black man the American film industry has ever known.

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