Arts/Life

Book Reviews
5:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

'Heaven': A Hilarious (Yes, Really) History Of Shariah

promo
istockphoto.com

English barrister Sadakat Kadri's Heaven on Earth: A Journey through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World is an evolutionary look at Islamic jurisprudence that is subtle, generous and — rather improbably — dryly hilarious.

Read more
Books News & Features
1:25 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Best Books (And Surprising Insights) On Lincoln

iStockPhoto.com

In a 24-hour, Internet-fueled news cycle, political campaign reporters often seem to be focused on what just happened, and only what just happened. But presidential candidates profess to take a longer view: They consciously link their critiques and promises to the influential figures and debates of the past.

Read more
Author Interviews
1:24 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Carole King, From Doo-Wopper To Chart Topper

Carole King was in a doo-wop group called the Co-Sines when she was a teenager.
Jim McCrary

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 5:16 am

Carole King has an armful of Grammy Awards and countless Top 10 hits, both under her own name and as a songwriter for artists from Little Eva to the Monkees to Aretha Franklin.

Her solo album Tapestry spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts, becoming one of the biggest-selling records of all time. King managed to fit in all those hits by starting very, very young. She tells NPR's Renee Montagne that she was just 15 when she and some classmates formed a doo-wop group called the Co-Sines.

Read more
Author Interviews
10:00 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Before Admin Assistants, There Were Secretaries

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 9:47 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Are you a fan of "Mad Men" or very much not? How you feel about the hit show on the AMC cable channel about a 1960s advertising agency may have something to do with how you feel about its depiction of the time when secretaries were not administrative assistants, personal assistants or executive assistants. No, they were secretaries - and they were not to forget that.

Here's a clip from "Mad Men" season one, when Joan, a senior secretary, gives advice to a new hire on her first day.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "MAD MEN")

Read more
Arts & Life
10:00 am
Mon April 9, 2012

New Yorker Offers A Poem Burning With Spice

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet by Laura Barkat of the website TSPoetry.com. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters and less to #TMMPoetry.

Religion
9:10 am
Mon April 9, 2012

'When God Talks Back' To The Evangelical Community

T.M. Luhrmann's book When God Talks Back examines how evangelicals perceive and relate to God.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 10:09 am

While attending services and small group meetings at The Vineyard, an evangelical church with 600 branches across the country, anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann noticed that several members of the congregation said God had repeatedly spoken to them and that they had heard what God wanted them to do.

In When God Talks Back, which is based on an anthropological study she did at The Vineyard, Luhrmann examines the personal relationships people developed with God and explores how those relationships were cemented through the practice of prayer.

Read more
You Must Read This
5:00 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Cowslips To Kingcups: Finding Joy In The Garden

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 9:37 am

Lauren Groff is the author of the new novel, Arcadia.

The darkest period of my life, so far, arrived the summer I was pregnant with my eldest son. The future was growing in me with all of its terrifying unpredictability, and I found myself anxious, unable to work and woefully at sea.

Read more
Books News & Features
1:21 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Simple Tweets Of Fate: Teju Cole's Condensed News

Blaise Pascal once wrote that writing succinctly can be hard. It's something many of us aim for, yet few of us master. But if you're writing on Twitter, you have to keep it short.

The Nigerian writer Teju Cole recently devoted himself to the goal of writing in brief. On his Twitter account, he crafts compact stories based on small news items, things you might overlook in the metro section of a newspaper. And with brevity, his stories gain deeper meaning.

Read more
Monkey See
2:57 pm
Sun April 8, 2012

Lena Dunham's 'Girls': Still Sex, Still The City, Different Show

Lena Dunham stars in HBO's new series, Girls, premiering April 15.
Jojo Whilden HBO

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 6:15 am

Lena Dunham's new series Girls debuts on HBO on April 15. Dunham, who got quite a bit of attention for being the star, director and writer of the 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture, fills the same three roles in this ensemble show about four young women in New York.

Read more
Author Interviews
1:37 pm
Sun April 8, 2012

Ignore 'The Mama's Boy Myth': Keep Your Boys Close

Author Kate Stone Lombardi is the recipient of six Clarion awards. She has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Nancy Borowick

Originally published on Sun April 8, 2012 5:16 pm

There are plenty of pop culture references to the dangers of a close mother-son relationship. From the myth of Oedipus to the movie Psycho, narrative after narrative harps on the idea that mothers can damage their sons, make them weak, awkward and dependent.

But for millions of men, the opposite has turned out to be true, author Kate Lombardi tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. Lombardi — a mother herself — is the author of the new book, The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
10:01 pm
Sat April 7, 2012

A Mix-Up At The Music Fest

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is the name of a popular music group, past or present. You'll be given clues in which two letters in the group's name have been changed. For example, given "The Bench Boss," the answer would be "The Beach Boys," after changing the N in "Bench" to an A and the first S of "Boss" to a Y.

Read more
Poetry
10:49 am
Sat April 7, 2012

The Beauty And Difficulty Of Poet Nikky Finney

Nikky Finney is an award-winning poet and the Provost's Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Kentucky.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Sun April 8, 2012 10:07 am

April is National Poetry Month, a time when bookstores proudly display those slim volumes usually hidden in the back.

On display this April is the work of Kentucky poet Nikky Finney, who won the National Book Award last November for her latest collection, Head Off & Split.

Finney's acceptance speech at the awards ceremony was as poetic as anything in her winning book. Finney says she worked on the speech through 39 drafts and she felt good about it, but she's still stunned by the response she's gotten.

Read more
Author Interviews
5:20 am
Sat April 7, 2012

'Calico Joe': A Would-Be Legend Rediscovered

Joe Castle, from Calico Rock, Ark., came up to the Chicago Cubs in the summer of 1973, played in 38 games, and hit an astonishing .488, including 21 home runs. That's all he played before being struck by a pitch. Scott Simon speaks with author John Grisham about his new baseball-themed novel, Calico Joe.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
1:16 am
Sat April 7, 2012

Comedian Rachel Dratch Plays Not My Job

Rachel Dratch

Rachel Dratch was one of the stars of Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006. She was hilarious, and then she left the show. What happened then? Well, she got so tired of answering that question she wrote a whole book about it, called Girl Walks Into a Bar.

This month marks the 100th anniversary voyage of the Titanic, so we'll ask Dratch three questions about the James Cameron movie inspired by that historical tragedy.

Movie Reviews
2:42 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

To Be Or Not To Be (The Pope) Is The Question

IFC Films

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 5:01 pm

When the College of Cardinals gathers in the Vatican to choose a new church leader — formally the Bishop of Rome — it announces its selection with the Latin phrase "Habemus papam" ("We have a pope").

But suppose that, when a cardinal steps out onto a balcony in St. Peter's Square to utter those fateful words, the gentle soul in white sitting behind him, out of sight of the crowd, develops stage fright.

Read more
Pop Culture
1:00 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Toy Companies Debut Bald Dolls For Cancer

A lineup of the bald Bratz and Moxie Girlz dolls that are scheduled to hit store shelves this summer.
MGA Entertainment

Barbie is best known for her curvy figure and long blond hair — but Mattel plans to produce a doll that's a dramatic departure from that classic image.

This Barbie will be bald.

Mattel decided to make the doll after a campaign by Jane Bingham, a survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Philadelphia. She started a Facebook group with her friend called "Beautiful and Bald Barbie." She tells Audie Cornish, host of All Things Considered, that they wanted the toymaker to create a doll for kids who have cancer or have lost their hair for medical reasons.

Read more
Book Reviews
12:03 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

100 Years Later, Titanic Lives On In Letters

The ill-fated Titanic rests at Harland and Wolff's shipyard, Belfast, in February 1912.
Topical Press Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 4:23 pm

When I hear the word "Titanic," I picture a tuxedoed Leonardo DiCaprio, waiting at the bottom of a gilded staircase while the voice of Celine Dion swells in my mind. It's all Edwardian glitz and glamour, decadence and passionate love, the kind best enjoyed in a dark theater with plenty of popcorn. And then I quickly remember that the ship sinks, and that Titanic is more than just an epic film from my youth. On April 15, a century will have passed since the ship plummeted into the icy Atlantic, and it is the tragedy we should remember, not just the mythology surrounding it.

Read more
Movie Reviews
11:08 am
Fri April 6, 2012

'Damsels': A Daffy, Earnest Return For Whit Stillman

College do-gooders Heather (Carrie MacLemore), Violet (Greta Gerwig) and Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) take it upon themselves to improve the lives of everyone around them — including those smelly frat boys — at their fictional upper-crust school.
Sabrina Lantos Sony Pictures Classics

Director Whit Stillman is 60 now, and hasn't made a film since 1998's The Last Days of Disco, but his preferred milieu is still the world of privileged young people with the luxury of taking time to figure themselves out. It's a rarefied realm, where vocabulary and self-confidence outstrip experience, and wisdom and adulthood are still to be embraced.

Read more
Arts & Life
10:00 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Texan Poet Says, Spend Some Time Among The Clouds

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from storyteller and poet Anne McCrady of Henderson, Texas. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

Movie Interviews
9:59 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Whit Stillman: An Indie Auteur Returns, Wink Intact

Whit Stillman, the whimsical director of Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, returns after 13 years with Damsels in Distress -- which he calls "a comedy of ideas, even if they're lame ones."
Gareth Cattermole Getty Images

A little short of two decades ago, I served with Whit Stillman on the Dramatic Competition jury at the Sundance Film Festival, alongside actor Samuel Jackson and directors Atom Egoyan and Darnell Martin. During voting meetings, we were a fractious bunch, but otherwise we all got along great. Never had jury duty been so much fun — when I wasn't fretting about whether Stillman had seen my surly review of his 1990 first feature, Metropolitan.

Read more
The Salt
9:34 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Lust, Lies And Empire: The Fishy Tale Behind Eating Fish On Friday

Did the pope really make a secret pact to sell more fish? No, but the real story of eating fish on Fridays is much more fantastical.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 1:07 pm

It sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown thriller: A powerful medieval pope makes a secret pact to prop up the fishing industry that ultimately alters global economics. The result: Millions of Catholics around the world end up eating fish on Fridays as part of a religious observance.

Read more
Movie Reviews
9:14 am
Fri April 6, 2012

A Sublime, Impressionistic 'Deep Blue Sea'

Rachel Weisz plays the adulterous Lady Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea, turning in a performance as luminous as a Pre-Raphaelite portrait.
Music Box Films

Terence Davies' films aim for and often achieve a state of music, the camerawork in harmony with the soundtrack, the images connected by emotion rather than narrative.

Adapting Terence Rattigan's 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea, he throws out the drama's tidy structure and much of the dialogue, and shows the events through the eyes of the adulterous Lady Hester Collyer, played by Rachel Weisz.

Read more
Monkey See
9:02 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Sex Comedies And Marshmallow Peeps

  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

On this week's podcast, we decided to ruminate about teen sex comedies — in part because of spring break season, and perhaps in part because we're all surrounded by discussions of American Reunion. We chat about the ebb and flow of teen comedy in general, the ways in which Superbad was and was not influential, and the relationship between teen comedies, sex comedies, and teen sex comedies. This also leads us down a strange path about what kinds of vaguely dirty movies we did and did not have access to as kids.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:30 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

'Comic-Con': A Frothy Love Letter To Nerd Culture

Costume designer Holly Conrad (center) poses with some of her own creations inspired by the popular video game Mass Effect.
Wrekin Hill

The inaugural San Diego Comic Book Convention, now more commonly known by the shorthand Comic-Con, drew around 300 comic enthusiasts for a weekend at a downtown hotel. More than 40 years later, the event now hosts upward of 120,000 attendees at the San Diego Convention Center, all gathered for a pop-cultural smorgasbord in which comic books are but a small, increasingly marginalized part.

Read more
Monkey See
3:10 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

This 'American' Life: Pie, Hormones And The Endless Hunt For Happiness

From left, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Jim (Jason Biggs), Stifler (Seann William Scott), Oz (Chris Klein) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) are back, together again for their 13-year high school reunion.
Hopper Stone Universal Pictures

It was really too bad about the audio.

Our press screening of American Reunion here in Washington was saddled with a muted soundtrack, which is unfortunate for any movie, let alone one that revolves around '90s music, loud parties and a school dance. The audience laughed louder at "I love this song!" than at any of Eugene Levy's improv.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

'Surviving Progress': Taking Overdevelopment To Task

The documentary Surviving Progress illustrates its arguments on the sustainability of human behavior in the context of environmental degradation with striking images of life in cities like Sao Paulo.
First Run Features

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 11:37 am

Not every human advance is a snare, according to Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress. But some new techniques can lead to something the Canadian author calls a "progress trap" — a development that's ultimately more harmful than helpful.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

'We Have A Pope': Whoops, Maybe We Don't

Reluctant Papa: Michel Piccoli (center) plays Melville, a cardinal surprisingly elected pope by his peers. At a critical moment before he must address his new flock, Melville insists he can't take the job.
Philippe Antonello IFC Film

"God sees abilities in me I don't have," laments the protagonist of Italian writer-director Nanni Moretti's new movie. Such self-doubt is hardly novel, but Melville (Michel Piccoli) has a special stake in God's opinion of him — he's just been elected pope.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

'Keyhole': Looking Through (And Into) The Past

Isabella Rossellini plays Hyacinth, the late (but still remarkably vital) wife of Ulysses in Guy Maddin's multilayered drama Keyhole.
Monterey Media

"This kind of weather stirs me up," growls Ulysses, as he looks with caged-tiger menace out of rain-streaked windows at the strobing, manic lightning outside.

"Man's weather," he adds.

As embodied in the chiseled good looks of actor Jason Patric, Ulysses himself is a picture of old Hollywood masculinity, so tough and unwavering that surely only the most primal forces of nature could match him.

Read more
Monkey See
1:45 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Kerry Washington On Bringing Washington 'Scandal' To TV

Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope on ABC's new drama, Scandal.
Danny Feld ABC

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 3:58 pm

Kerry Washington knows that her new drama, Scandal, will inevitably be compared to another drama about D.C.: The West Wing. Scandal tells Audie Cornish on today's All Things Considered that it even has Josh Malina, a West Wing cast member, for a little of what she calls "secret D.C. credibility."

Read more
Author Interviews
1:41 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Self-Improver A.J. Jacobs Takes On Getting 'Healthy'

Simon & Schuster

When A.J. Jacobs got sick on a tropical vacation, his wife looked at him in his hospital bed and said, "I don't want to be a widow at 45."

Jacobs was 41, bedridden with tropical pneumonia, and living with what he calls a "python-that-swallowed-a-goat body." He wasn't notably unhealthy, but he'd begun to feel some of the vulnerabilities of age, so he vowed to make himself healthier so that he could be around — and vital — for his wife and three sons.

Read more

Pages