Arts/Life

Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

An Unwitting Folk Hero Finds A Spotlight At Last

In the 1960s, protest singer Rodriguez didn't find an audience in the United States. Unbeknownst to him, though, one of his albums became a massive success in South Africa. Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul tracks him down in Searching for Sugar Man.
Hal WIlson Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 1:06 pm

In 1968, two music producers went to a Detroit dive called The Sewer to hear a Mexican-American protest singer with a small cult following.

The producers' client list was mostly Motown, but they immediately signed Rodriguez (full name Sixto Rodriguez), whose stirring lyrics they hoped would speak to disenfranchised outsiders of all stripes and their champions.

Together, they made two albums — one of which, Cold Fact, provides the soundtrack for the thrilling new documentary Searching for Sugar Man.

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Monkey See
1:48 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

It Was All A Dream (Or: Turns Out Spoilers Are Good For You)

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 4:24 pm

Chances are, if you're a regular reader of this blog you've read (or perhaps even posted) an incredibly vitriolic comment or two accusing the writer of the despicable crime of spoilers.

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Ask Me Another
1:24 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Baratunde Thurston: The Next Black President

This week's Ask Me Another Mystery Guest takes the stage with show host, Ophira Eisenberg, for a conversation that's sure to tickle your funny bone.
Steve McFarland NPR

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 2:51 pm

Comedian. Writer. Twitter sensation. Baratunde Thurston may be the most media-savvy provocateur around today. His latest bestselling book is How To Be Black, half tongue-in-cheek guidebook on such topics as "How to be the Black Friend" or "How to be the Next Black President," and half memoir about his life experiences with identity and race.

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Theater
11:40 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Expressing The King Of Pop With Music, Acrobatics

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, actor Anthony Mackie stars in this summer's fantasy thriller, "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter," but what's the movie that Mackie could watch over and over again? We'll find out in a few minutes.

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The Salt
11:10 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Designer Kitchens And Why We Think We Need Them

Do you really need a kitchen like this to boil water?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:24 am

If you've ever tuned in to TV shows like HGTV's House Hunters, you've heard many an aspirational "hunter" lamenting the woes of a home without kitchen upgrades: They want to know, where are the granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, high-end fixtures, and custom cabinets?

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Movie Reviews
11:10 am
Thu July 26, 2012

In China, A Persistent Thorn In The State's Side

Although Ai Weiwei's art is internationally recognized, much of his worldwide fame comes from his political activism in China. The latter is the focus of Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
Ted Alcorn IFC Films

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 9:05 am

A couple of months ago, I visited Beijing, and like so many before me, I was stunned by how hypercapitalist Communist China has become — the hundreds of glossy highrises, the countless shops selling Prada and Apple, the traffic jams filled with brand new Audis. You felt you could be in L.A. or Tokyo — until you wanted some information. Then you discovered that Facebook was permanently blocked, certain words in Google searches always crashed your browser, and, as my wife joked, it was easier to buy a Rolls-Royce than a real newspaper. Here was a country at once booming — and repressive.

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Monkey See
10:11 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Press Tour 2012: The View So Far

Crystal the Monkey shows up to promote NBC's new comedy Animal Practice.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

We're about a week into the Television Critics Association press tour for this summer, and so far we've heard from PBS, NBC and Fox. Still to come: ABC (today and tomorrow), CBS/Showtime/The CW (Sunday and Monday), and the rest of cable, including HBO, Discovery, BBC America, ESPN, and so on (Wednesday through Friday of next week).

So how is it looking?

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Book Reviews
5:00 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Haunting Memories, Elaborate Plotting In 'Harbor'

Tana French is the author of In the Woods.
Kyran O'Brien Viking Adult

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 10:23 am

Home is everything. It's where we come from and where we run to, wanting to start anew. But it's also that place we can't escape, the one that's so much a part of us that no matter how old we get, it's impossible to erase its presence from our memories, our bodies.

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Television
2:10 am
Thu July 26, 2012

At Bravo, A Pop-Culture Kingpin Works Day And Night

Andy Cohen on the set of his nightly Bravo talk show, Watch What Happens: Live. Cohen is also Bravo's executive vice president of development and talent, and has helped make Bravo a pop-culture heavyweight.
Heidi Gutman Bravo

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 8:35 am

Andy Cohen has been yakking for most of his 44 years. He has a book titled Most Talkative — a title he earned in high school.

"My mouth has been my greatest asset and also my biggest Achilles' heel," he says.

Most days, it's an asset.

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Movie Interviews
1:42 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

For Ai Weiwei, Politics And Arts Always Mix

The famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is also a prominent dissident in his home country. His political side is the focus of Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
Ted Alcorn IFC Films

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 6:49 pm

Last week, a Chinese court rejected artist Ai Weiwei's lawsuit against the tax bureau that had imposed a massive fine on his company. Ai was fined more than $2 million after being detained for three months last year.

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Books
10:06 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Exclusive First Read: 'The Pigeon Pie Mystery'

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 12:38 pm

  • Hear Chapter Five Of 'The Pigeon Pie Mystery'

The year is 1898. Our heroine, Princess Alexandrina, better known as Mink, is the suddenly penniless daughter of the late, disgraced Maharajah of Prindur, and the best female marksman in England. Queen Victoria has offered Mink a grace-and-favor house (rent-free lodging granted by a monarch) at Hampton Court Palace, where the dispossessed princess and her large-footed serving maid, Pooki, fall in with a cast of classic English eccentrics, a wandering American, and a beetle-eating hedgehog named Victoria.

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Remembrances
9:49 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Hemsley Remembered As Obnoxious, Beloved Jefferson

Actor Sherman Hemsley was best known for his role as George Jefferson on the hit sitcom The Jeffersons. He died Wednesday at the age of 74. Host Michel Martin speaks with Tampa Bay Times media critic Eric Deggans about the actor's career and the impact his roles had on TV and in our culture.

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Sinclair Rejects Olympic Excess In 'Ghost Milk'

The London landscape is changing, to its historical detriment, says Iain Sinclair, in the ramp-up to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Mie Ahmt iStockphoto.com

For every successful Olympic Games, such as Sydney's in 2000, there are twice as many failures. Montreal famously declared that the 1976 Olympics would pay for themselves; instead the city needed forty years to square its debt, and meanwhile the Expos left town. Beijing's Bird's Nest is crumbling; the hotels far from downtown are vacant. And in debt-wracked Athens, whose lavish Games went ten times over budget, farmers graze their pigs in the abandoned weightlifting stadium.

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New In Paperback
5:03 am
Wed July 25, 2012

New In Paperback July 23-29

Demon Fish cover.

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 4:21 pm

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Stephen King, Ali Smith, Charles C. Mann Juliet Eilperin and Paul Hendrickson.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Kitchen Window
11:19 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

You Can Never Have Too Many Blackberries

Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 8:28 am

When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I was amazed at how many people had the same landscaping complaint. "I spent all weekend cutting down the blackberries," some co-worker would groan on Monday morning, looking for sympathy for the lost hours and aching back. However, as someone who didn't grow up in such Edenic surroundings, I was totally dumbfounded. Cutting back blackberries? Why would you cut back blackberries? Don't they, you know, give you blackberries?

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Monkey See
3:33 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Best YA Fiction Poll: You Asked, We Answer!

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 3:44 pm

Our Best YA Fiction poll has only been live for a few hours, and already the cries of outrage are echoing through the intertubes! Where are A Wrinkle in Time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Ender's Game? What about Watership Down? My Side of the Mountain? Where the Red Fern Grows? Most of Judy Blume's oeuvre? The Little House books?

We hear you, I promise.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

In A Make-Your-Own-Girl Fable, A Real Woman Emerges

Ruby (Zoe Kazan) comes to life when Calvin (Paul Dano) begins writing her into existence on his typewriter in Ruby Sparks. Kazan also wrote the new romantic comedy from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine.
Merrick Morton Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 3:57 pm

There's a fine line between satire and the nasty snigger that marks so much of pop comedy these days — which is another way of saying that the corrosively funny takedown of child beauty pageants in the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine moved me to forgive (by a hair) its creepiest creation — Alan Arkin's heroin-addicted grandpa. Still, I wonder whether my 14-year-old, who has roared her way through that movie at least a dozen times, can tell the difference between sharp commentary and the juvie desire to shock.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Two Singular People, Taking Life Hand In Hand

Young-chan lost his sight and hearing as a child, though after he learned to speak. His wife, Soon-ho, cares for him, and the intimacy between them is the most striking part of Planet of Snail.
Cinema Guild

The obvious way to approach South Korean director Seung-jun Yi's modest but potent documentary Planet of Snail is to think of it as a story about a disabled man making his way through the world with the help of his companion. But more simply and more accurately, it's really a movie about marriage — about the way two people can smooth over each other's cracks to achieve an imperfect yet sturdy wholeness.

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Author Interviews
12:04 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

'The Twilight War' Between The U.S. And Iran

David Crist's father, George (left), discusses operations against Iranian attack boats with Navy Lt. Paul Hillenbrand. George Crist, a Marine Corps general, was commander of CENTCOM from 1985-1988.
Courtesy of David Crist

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 1:54 pm

In The Twilight War, government historian David Crist outlines the secret history of America's 30-year conflict with Iran. The book, based on interviews with hundreds of officials as well as classified military archives, details how the covert war has spanned five American presidential terms and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare.

Crist tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that there have been several incidents that have almost resulted in battle over the past 30 years.

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The Picture Show
11:34 am
Tue July 24, 2012

The Colorful Days Of Life On The Border

Bruce Berman

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 1:28 pm

Editor's note: This is another one of those stories that came to me fortuitously by email. Bruce Berman teaches photography in Las Cruces, N.M., and, like many photography instructors, he has a huge archive of his own. This is just a small selection of his color photographs documenting life in the border town of El Paso, Texas.

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The Salt
9:46 am
Tue July 24, 2012

A Bartender's Antidote To Sweet And Citrus? Bitter Bark, Myrrh And Secrets

Alexandra Bookless, head bartender at The Passenger, suggests starting off with Fernet in a cocktail like the Hanky Panky.
Bill Chappell NPR

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 4:48 pm

For bartenders, the words "last call" have a hidden meaning: It won't be long before they're enjoying a drink of their own. And after hours of making tonics, flips and fizzes, what does a bartender drink? Often, the answer is short and simple: Fernet.

In a world of citrusy, sugary drinks that can all taste alike, Fernet Branca stands alone. Depending on how your palate responds, the Italian digestif can be called everything from refreshingly bold to an acquired taste to cough syrup that's gone bad.

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Book Reviews
5:18 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Experimental Fiction At Its Finest — And Funniest

Experimental fiction in North America began with a genius of a doyen in Paris: Gertrude Stein, whose aesthetic assertion that writers shape and form and reform the medium of language the way sculptors work with stone, painters work with light and shape and composers work with sound, changed Hemingway forever and, thus, changed the nature of the American short story — or the American art story, at least.

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100 Best Books
5:03 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Best-Ever Teen Novels? Vote For Your Favorites

Harriet Russell

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 8:40 am

Last month we asked you, our audience, to nominate titles for a top-100 list of the best young adult — YA — fiction ever written. Thousands of you sent in nominations. We've tabulated those suggestions and, with the help of an expert panel, narrowed the list to the 235 finalists you see below.

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Movies
3:28 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Watch This: William Friedkin's Unlikely Inspirations

William Friedkin, seen here in 2006, made his name in the '70s with movies like The French Connection.
Chad Buchanan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 8:30 am

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Digital Life
3:31 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

YouTube Network Plays Well With Latino Audiences

uses YouTube to get the word out on her signature transformable fashion, modeled here by Cindy Vela. She says joining the Latino lifestyle network Mitu will only help increase her exposure." href="/post/youtube-network-plays-well-latino-audiences" class="noexit lightbox">
Designer Ximena Valero uses YouTube to get the word out on her signature transformable fashion, modeled here by Cindy Vela. She says joining the Latino lifestyle network Mitu will only help increase her exposure.
Ximena Valero via YouTube

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 5:04 pm

Whenever 29-year-old Trina Hernandez and her family have questions, they all turn to the same place.

"YouTube is such a popular word in my family," she says, and that's not just with her husband and son. "With my mom, she has a question and she'll go to YouTube to search. And my aunts, they're like, 'Oh, did you watch that video on YouTube? Oh, look it up real quick.' "

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Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
2:41 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Sandwich Monday: The All-American Burger

With a couple slices of grilled bread, you can make even the most dangerous thing look innocuous in satellite photos.
NPR

The Daniel family wrote in to recommend the All-American Burger from Saloon Steakhouse here in Chicago. We're not sure if they were recommending it because they thought we'd like it, or as a vicious plot to put us all in food comas, because as soon as we got to "burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches," we stopped reading and went to go get it.

Eva: It's so annoying whenever I hang out with burger, grilled cheese is ALWAYS there too.

Blythe: I feel like I'm just eating the entire kid's menu in one sandwich.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
1:58 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

'In The Attic': Whips, Witches And A Peculiar Princess

cover detail
Simon and Schuster

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 5:57 pm

Gillian Flynn's most recent novel is Gone Girl.

At age 13, I survived almost entirely on green apple Jolly Ranchers and Flowers in the Attic, and to this day I can't look at the book without my mouth watering. My much loved copy must have come from a supermarket (it was impossible to go to a supermarket in the '80s to, say, secretly stock up on green apple Jolly Ranchers, without a V.C. Andrews book lurking by checkout).

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Author Interviews
10:43 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Unraveling The Genetic Code That Makes Us Human

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:18 pm

There's enough DNA in the human body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back. But don't confuse DNA with your genes, says writer Sam Kean.

"They are sort of conflated in most people's minds today but they really are distinct things," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Genes are like the story and DNA is the language that the story is written in."

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Poetry
8:07 am
Mon July 23, 2012

It's A Genre! The Overdue Poetry Of Parenthood

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 12:26 pm

Birth, most people would agree, is a fairly important event. And poetry, most people would agree, tends to focus on subjects of intense emotional significance. So one would think the poetry of early parenthood would be a rich and varied category, filled with reflections on physical transformation, the emergence of life, the realities of infanthood and so forth.

One would be wrong.

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Monkey See
7:54 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Press Tour 2012: That Tiger Isn't Wearing Any Pants, And Other Controversies

Daniel Tiger of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, coming soon to PBS.
PBS

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 12:50 pm

Admittedly, PBS would have had a hard time living up to the experience of its first day at this summer's Television Critics Association's press tour here in Pasadena — the omelets, the cast of Downton Abbey, all that. But its second day started where a lot of people start with PBS: with kid stuff.

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