Arts/Life

Books
12:36 pm
Sat August 11, 2012

Batman's Biggest Secret (No, It's Not Bruce Wayne)

Bill Finger (left) helped create the Batman we know today, including his iconic costume, his tragic backstory, and many of his adversaries.
Ty Templeton

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 2:41 pm

Batman has many secrets — the best-known one, of course, being his millionaire alter ego, Bruce Wayne. But that may not be the Dark Knight's biggest secret.

Since the 1930s, only one man has been given credit for creating the caped crusader and his home city of Gotham. Bob Kane's name appears in the credits of all the movies, the campy TV show and the associated merchandise, from video games and action figures to sheets and underwear.

But what if Bob Kane didn't do it all by himself?

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Author Interviews
12:03 am
Sat August 11, 2012

'This Will End In Tears': Soundtracks For Down Days

HarperCollins

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 1:31 pm

Even the strongest among us get the blues: You can't get out of bed, you don't want to talk to a single other humanoid, and you just want to close the curtains and turn on the music. The songs you choose for those miseries have to be just right.

Adam Brent Houghtaling is something of a connoisseur of the melancholy moment. Perhaps to cheer himself up, he's put that expertise to use by producing a kind of encyclopedia of the best soundtracks for lonely days and nights. It's called This Will End in Tears: The Miserablist Guide to Music.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:00 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Not My Job: We Quiz NASA Engineers On Mars Candy

Missions engineers Bobak Ferdowsi (left) and Adam Steltzner — also known as "Mokawk guy" and "Elvis guy," respectively — helped land the Mars Curiosity rover on Sunday night.
Left: Brian van der Brug-Pool/Getty Images Right: Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 11, 2012 9:07 am

On Sunday night, while the rest of us were ooohing and aaahing over gymnastics, a bunch of propeller heads at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were flawlessly steering a billion-dollar robotic space laboratory the size of a minivan to a landing on Mars.

Missions engineers Bobak Ferdowsi and Adam Steltzner — whose hairstyles have led them to be nicknamed "Mokawk guy" and "Elvis guy," respectively — are two of the guys behind the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity, and very well might be the Sexiest Nerds Ever.

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Remembrances
3:00 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

David Rakoff Saw The World In All Its Dark Beauty

David Rakoff, the author of Half Empty, Don't Get Too Comfortable and Fraud, was a frequent contributor to This American Life. He died Thursday at the age of 47.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 5:04 pm

When writer David Rakoff died Thursday at the age 47, he was barely the age he said he was always "meant" to be. In his 2010 memoir, Half Empty, he wrote, "Everyone has an internal age, a time in life when one is, if not one's best, then at very least one's most authentic self. I always felt that my internal clock was calibrated somewhere between 47 and 53 years old."

Rakoff died in New York City after a long struggle with cancer — an ordeal that he wrote about with sobering honesty and biting wit.

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Monkey See
2:26 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Can NBC Get Its Fall Shows Into The Olympic Spotlight?

Matthew Perry and Brett Gelman of NBC's Go On appear in a promo shot especially for the Olympics.
Justin Lubin NBC

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 3:47 pm

With the Olympics drawing to a close, NBC is looking especially golden. They have had two weeks of great ratings — including record highs. What better time than on the eve of the network's new fall season to rack up two weeks of record audiences? But what might seem a slam dunk for the network is anything but.

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Books News & Features
2:11 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

'Age Of Desire': How Wharton Lost Her 'Innocence'

Edith Wharton moved to Paris in the early 1900s. Not long after, in 1913, after her affair with Morton Fullerton had ended, she divorced her husband of more than 20 years.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 3:47 pm

Jennie Fields was well into her new novel about Edith Wharton — and her love affair with a young journalist — when she heard that a new cache of Wharton letters had been discovered. They were written to Anna Bahlmann, who was first Wharton's governess and later her literary secretary. Bahlmann had never been considered a major influence on Wharton, but Fields had decided to make her a central character in her book, The Age of Desire, even before she heard about the letters.

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Monkey See
12:59 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

'Into The Woods' All Over Again, This Time In An Actual Urban Jungle

Sarah Stiles and Ivan Hernandez are Little Red and the Wolf — whose encounter in Into the Woods brings the fairy tale's charged sexuality forcefully to the surface.
Joan Marcus The Public Theater

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 1:44 pm

Oh, the questions that circulated when this summer's Shakespeare in the Park revival of Into the Woods was announced.

Who'd play the Baker, that woebegone would-be father at the center of Stephen Sondheim's fractured musical fairy tale?

Who'd step into the star role of the vengeful Witch, played notably by Bernadette Peters in the premiere and by Vanessa Williams in the 2002 revival?

How would the show work in a giant outdoor amphitheater, amid the trees and lawns and urban clatter of Central Park?

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Remembrances
12:14 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

David Rakoff: 'There Is No Answer As To Why Me'

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 5:28 am

Writer and humorist David Rakoff, who died Thursday at the age of 47, wrote with a perfect balance of wit and gravity about the cancer that would ultimately take his life.

Rakoff developed a devoted following as a regular contributor to the public radio program This American Life. His books of essays include Fraud and Don't Get Too Comfortable. Rakoff's most recent book, Half Empty, won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2011.

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Monkey See
11:04 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: On Fall TV And Whether Criticism Is Too Nice

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

This week, I managed to return from press tour, but we are still without Trey Graham. Fortunately, that means that the lovely Barrie Hardymon joined us for this episode, which kicks off with me fully (and exhaustively — sorry!) debriefing the team about fall television as I experienced it out in Los Angeles.

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Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
10:03 am
Fri August 10, 2012

NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Fiction, Week Of August 9, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, about a man's journey to see a dying friend, debuts at No. 7.

Author Interviews
10:03 am
Fri August 10, 2012

In Krasikov's World, Dreamers Can't Afford Dreams

Courtesy of Random House, Inc.

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 7:55 am

Sana Krasikov's collection of short stories, One More Year, delves deep into the lives of characters trying to make it in the new Russia. Each story carries an underlying sense that the strong do what they will, and the weak do what they must.

But Krasikov doesn't consider her stories cynical, she says they're realistic.

"I think, if you're in Russia, you can't sometimes afford not to see it like that," she tells NPR's Michel Martin, as part of Tell Me More's summer BRICSION series.

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Monkey See
9:35 am
Fri August 10, 2012

On Already Missing The Angry, Passionate Writing Of David Rakoff

David Rakoff, seen here in 2010.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 3:00 pm

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The Salt
8:12 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Smoked Chocolate, For National S'More Day And More

Chocolate chips, fresh out of the smoker at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery in Seattle.
Florangela Davila NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 8:57 am

It's National S'more Day, so you've got a good reason to indulge in the gooey goodness.

But what if you're nowhere near a campfire? How can you replicate the taste of a chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker s'more fired up and fashioned en plein air?

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Author Interviews
2:43 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Dr. Siri Books Began With A Surprise Hospital Stay

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 4:28 am

Author Colin Cotterill believes in fate. Though he didn't know it at the time, fate seemed to determine early on that he would write the Dr. Siri books, a series of mysteries that follows a 70-something Laotian country coroner. (This piece initially aired August 15, 2008 on Morning Edition).

Poetry Games
1:22 am
Fri August 10, 2012

'Swim Your Own Race' Wins NPR's Poetry Games

Ron Tanovitz

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 11:24 am

As athletes have sprinted and soared their way to bronze, silver and gold in London, Morning Edition has celebrated the Olympics with the Poetry Games: We invited poets from around the globe to compose original works about athletes and athletics and asked you to be the judges.

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Movies
3:17 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

In Times Of Drought, Movies Show Tenacity Of Life

Henry Hall prays to the heavens in 1934's Our Daily Bread. King Vidor's film about a farmers collective living through a drought was made during one of the country's most catastrophic dry spells.
United Artists/Photofest

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 9:02 am

The nationwide drought that has withered crops in more than 30 states shows no sign of letting up. But as Katharine Hepburn established in her film, The Rainmaker, that doesn't mean hope has to dry up.

"I dreamed we had a rain, a great big rain," she tells her brothers, only to be told that "a drought's a drought, and a dream's a dream."

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Media
3:17 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Fox Pioneers Formula For Latino News

Francisco Cortes started at Fox as an apprentice, then rose through the ranks to become Fox News Latino's first director.
Courtesy of FOX News Latino

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 7:48 am

This is the first in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

In a glass-walled conference room at Fox News in New York, reporter Bryan Llenas and two of his colleagues discuss the nature and success of their news site, Fox News Latino, largely aimed at English-speaking Hispanics.

Maybe a dozen feet away, two pundits can be seen heatedly arguing in a Fox News TV studio.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

'Bourne': New Character, New Star, Same Results

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) in an action sequence from The Bourne Legacy. The franchise, now four installments in, marches on with a new lead character and actor.
Mary Cybulski Universal Studios

As the title of the fourth movie in a perhaps never-ending series, The Bourne Legacy is almost too perfect. Variations on what happened to Jason Bourne in the first three entries can befall new characters indefinitely. If this prospect sounds a little tiresome — well, that's what quick cuts and superhuman stunts are for.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Faith Clashes With Youth Over A 'Red Hook Summer'

In Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer, Flik (Jules Brown, right) moves in with his bishop grandfather (Clarke Peters) for the summer and meets Chazz (Toni Lysaith). The movie is another in a string of Brooklyn-set stories from Lee.
Winter Coleman 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

It might seem unfair to compare an artist's latest work to his masterpiece from over 20 years ago, but Spike Lee not only appears to welcome the comparison, but invites it. From the steamy, sweaty, summer-in-Brooklyn setting to its loose structure to its incendiary climax, Lee's new Red Hook Summer is immediately identifiable as the direct descendant of 1989's Do the Right Thing.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Culture Clashes Pop Up Over '2 Days In New York'

Mingus (Chris Rock) and Marion (Julie Delpy) live together with their respective kids. Their differences begin to come out, though, when Marion's family visits in 2 Days in New York.
Jojo Whilden Magnolia Pictures

There's so little craziness today in American movies — even American independent movies. Filmmakers are so busy trying to look as if they're not trying too hard that their strained effortlessness is sometimes the only thing that comes through.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Iranian 'Wave' Rises To Euphoria, Crashes In Despair

An Iranian woman mourns in The Green Wave, a documentary that mixes live action and animation to tell the story of the protests that erupted in the country during its 2009 elections.
Dreamer Joint Venture

Late in The Green Wave, a soulful look back at the brief 2009 people's movement for democratic elections in Iran, a former United Nations prosecutor and human rights activist observes that the protest, despite being brutally quelled by the forces of President Ahmadinejad, was "a tidal wave" that would sweep through the Middle East.

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Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

'The Campaign': Just How Low Can Politicians Go?

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zack Galifianakis) are political rivals in The Campaign, a movie that improves the more it lets the two actors veer toward the outlandish.
Patti Perret Warner Bros.

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 3:49 pm

There's a devil-may-care recklessness to Will Ferrell that sets him apart from other screen comics — a willingness to commit to the moment without fear of embarrassment, even if the comedy goes right off the rails.

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Movie Interviews
12:32 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Chris Rock On The Funny Business Of Finding Success

"I don't believe I can offend you in a comedy club," Rock says. Star comedians use comedy clubs to try out new material. "I think that's the deal that's made when you see a famous guy in one of these clubs."
Michael Parmelee Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 1:01 pm

How much funny family dysfunction can you pack into two days? Plenty, if you're Mingus and Marion (Chris Rock and Julie Delpy) an interracial, multinational Manhattan couple — each with kids from previous relationships — hosting Marion's family visiting from France. The film, 2 Days in New York, is a sequel to Delpy's 2007 film, 2 Days in Paris.

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Movie Interviews
9:49 am
Thu August 9, 2012

Barber On Front Lines Of Civil Rights Battles

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 11:25 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we're going to talk about an important struggle in this country. We often talk about everyday heroes, people who, with no special credentials and no recognition, do remarkable things. Our next guest found someone like that and decided to make a film about him.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu August 9, 2012

'Banyan' Lifts The Veil On Cambodia's Nightmare

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 4:33 pm

When Michele Bachmann, through the most circumstantial of evidence, recently linked Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, it wouldn't have been irrational to think immediately of Joseph McCarthy's witch hunts. Bachmann's claim was quickly dismissed, bringing a rare moment of sort-of agreement between the parties, but it serves as an important reminder. Paranoid character-smearing is a time-honored tool of totalitarian regimes.

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Movie Interviews
1:21 am
Thu August 9, 2012

Watch This: Lynn Shelton's Eclectic Mix Of Favorites

Lynn Shelton first gained recognition for her 2009 film Humpday. She is known particularly for encouraging actors to improvise on set.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 12:21 pm

Lynn Shelton became known as a director with 2009's Humpday, and followed that up this year with Your Sister's Sister. Both films were shaped significantly by improvisation from the actors, a method that gives Shelton's films a unique naturalism. The dialogue sounds unscripted because it often is.

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Movie Reviews
2:26 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

No Mandatory Retirement In The Red-Light District

Meet the Fokkens follows Louise and Martine Fokkens, identical twins who have worked as prostitutes in Amsterdam for more than 50 years. Martine still works today, while Louise stopped a few years ago because of her arthritis.
Kino Lorber

Despite its dreadful English title (the Dutch title translates to the far better Old Whores), Meet the Fokkens strives mightily to be as quirky and bubbly as its portly protagonists. And it mostly succeeds, painting a warmhearted portrait of a pair of elderly twin prostitutes — they turned 70 earlier this year — one of whom, Martine, still occupies a storefront window in Amsterdam's red-light district while her sister, Louise, gave up the game two years earlier because of arthritis.

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New In Paperback
1:35 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

New In Paperback Aug. 6-12

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Adam Johnson, Ronald Kessler and Peter D. Ward.

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

Movie Reviews
11:03 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Sixty And Sexless, But 'Hope Springs' Eternal

In Hope Springs, Kay (Meryl Streep) forces Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) into a week of couples therapy after she gets tired of — among other things — sleeping in separate bedrooms.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 12:58 pm

The last time my 14-year-old daughter saw me and my wife being affectionate, she said, "Ewwww, old people kissing." Now, I'm not so old — barely half a century. But let's be frank. My daughter's no different from many people whose objects of fantasy are young and freakishly fit. So even a mild, cutesy little comedy like Hope Springs about two sexagenarians trying to have sex can seem shocking, even transgressive.

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Monkey See
9:09 am
Wed August 8, 2012

'Go On,' Matthew Perry, And Being Patient With Comedy Pilots

Sarah Baker as Sonia, Matthew Perry as Ryan King, and Brett Gelman as Mr. K in the new comedy Go On.
Jordin Althaus NBC

Tonight, after NBC wraps up its Olympic coverage — at a time currently listed as 11:04 p.m. — they'll be previewing Matthew Perry's new sitcom, Go On, which will then go away until its regular premiere on September 10.

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