Arts/Life

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?

"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

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode "The Pursuit of Happiness."

About Kathryn Schulz's TEDTalk

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

Does Having Options Make Us Happier?

"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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Arts & Life
12:18 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Colorful Visions At African-American Art Exhibit

Gene Young American Art Museum

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:50 am

The African-American experience is reflected, right now, on the walls of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Exuberant dancing in Chicago. Laundry on a line in the nation's capital. A girl smiling out from her father's warm jacket — all captured in photographs, paintings and sculptures from the 1920s through the 1990s.

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Monkey See
2:03 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Studios To Movie Fans: Take Our Clips, Please

Robert Duvall and Al Pacino in a scene from The Godfather Part II.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

Maybe you needed a good cry, but you were at work and didn't have easy access to your DVD of "The Notebook." So, you searched for that heart wrenching break-up scene on YouTube and let the tears flow freely.

Could be, nostalgic for times past when "real" men wore suits and drank bourbon, you were itching to watch Humphrey Bogart tell Ingrid Bergman, "Here's lookin' at you kid."

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New In Paperback
1:14 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

New In Paperback April 30-May 6

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 2:42 pm

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Dan Brown, Diane Keaton, Fareed Zakaria, Annie Jacobsen and Mitchell Zuckoff.

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

Pop Culture
10:30 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Sherlock: A Character Who's More Than Elementary

Basil Rathbone (right) as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1945.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 11:04 am

One of my favorite professors, the late Ian Watt, taught that there were four great myths of modern individualism: Faust, Don Juan, Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe. This always got me wondering which, if any, pop-culture heroes might endure in the same way. James Bond? Luke Skywalker? The Avengers? C'mon. In fact, there's only one who I feel sure will last — Sherlock Holmes.

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Performing Arts
9:58 am
Wed May 2, 2012

When It Comes To War, Humor Helps Us Survive

Water by the Spoonful is this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It's a play about addiction, memory, and the Iraq War. Host Michel Martin speaks with playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, who says that her people don't have to wallow in misery, that we can laugh, even in our darkest moments.

Monkey See
9:05 am
Wed May 2, 2012

'Rurally Screwed': On Finding An Honest Life Away From The City

Jessie Knadler, her husband Jake (a veteran of the Army Reserves who recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan), and their daughter June.
Penguin

Jessie Knadler is the thirty-something author of Rurally Screwed: My Life Off The Grid With the Cowboy I Love (Berkley Hardcover).

I like her immediately as she strides in the door at WMRA, the Shenandoah Valley public radio station that kindly employs me. There she is, short and slight as two seconds; still got this big-city, offhand glamour and presence going six years out of Manhattan. She's "bring 'em on" without any silly bravado.

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Author Interviews
8:36 am
Wed May 2, 2012

ExxonMobil: A 'Private Empire' On The World Stage

Steve Coll was a managing editor at The Washington Post and a staff writer for The New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for reporting about the Securities and Exchange Commission and in 2004 for his book Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.
Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 10:30 am

In Private Empire, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Steve Coll investigates how ExxonMobil has used its money and power to wield significant influence in Washington, D.C., particularly during the Bush administration.

Executives at the company maintained close personal connections with members of the Bush administration — but Coll says the "cliched idea that Exxon-Mobil was just an instrument of the Bush administration's foreign policy — a kind of extension of the American government during the Bush years — is just wrong."

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Kitchen Window
5:26 am
Wed May 2, 2012

You Don't Have To Like Liver To Love Pate

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 11:30 am

Once at a family gathering, my relatives and I met in the living room for a midday snack. A spread with vegetables and crackers was arranged in a spiral on a white platter, the colors fanning out in a rainbow. My cousin Megan was the first to dig in, sampling a bit of the spread on a crunchy cracker. Her brows furrowed as she chewed.

"This is so good," she exclaimed. "What is this?"

"Liver," my cousin Danny replied.

Megan yelped and threw the remaining cracker across the room as she cringed in horror. "Liver? I just ate liver?"

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed May 2, 2012

'Power': Robert Caro's Life Of Johnson Hits The '60s

Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 8:18 am

The White House has been occupied by some outsize personalities and towering figures, but Lyndon B. Johnson was as big as Texas. Six-foot-four and physically intimidating, he was the kind of man who "got bigger as he talked to you." He had a heart — sometimes — to match: Unlike many white politicians of his era, Johnson was personally infuriated by racism, and signed into law some of the most important civil rights legislation in American history.

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Arts & Life
1:24 am
Wed May 2, 2012

'Scream' Still Echoes After More Than A Century

This version of The Scream is one of four made by Edvard Munch, and the only one outside Norway. It is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York.
AP

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 5:59 am

It's perhaps the most reproduced piece of art ever created. It has adorned key chains and coffee mugs, and the cover of Time magazine. Andy Warhol used it, and now one of the four versions of The Scream, Edvard Munch's iconic work — the only one outside Norway — is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York. Sale estimates are as high as $80 million.

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Author Interviews
1:23 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Do Liberals Live Under A 'Tyranny Of Cliches'?

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 5:03 am

Conservative critic Jonah Goldberg says he's inspired to write when he gets annoyed. "Aggravation is a muse," he says. And after speaking on a number of college campuses, he grew aggravated enough to write a book. It's called The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.

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