Arts/Life

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Monkey See
9:02 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Sex Comedies And Marshmallow Peeps

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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Television
1:00 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Mary J. Blige Burger King Commercial Draws Ire

There's growing controversy over a Burger King ad featuring singer Mary J Blige. Blige apologized for the ad on Thursday, saying she didn't approve the final version.

Author Interviews
12:33 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

The Secret Hunt For The Mastermind Of Sept. 11

Little, Brown and Company

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, there was one man the American public wanted captured: Osama bin Laden. There was also a secret hunt going on for someone else, the real mastermind of the attacks.

That man was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he's the focus of Josh Meyer and Terry McDermott's new book, The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."

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Book Reviews
10:02 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Lionel Shriver's Not-So-'New Republic'

istockphoto.com

Lionel Shriver's new novel, called The New Republic, is actually an old manuscript with a star-crossed history. As Shriver explains in a prefatory note, this satire on (among other things) terrorism was finished in 1998, but, back then, publishers weren't interested. That was five years before Shriver's break-through novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin. Then, Sept. 11 happened: sincerity was in; irony was out. Publishers wouldn't touch this story that offered an ironic take on violent extremism.

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Arts & Life
10:00 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Australian Filmmaker Offers A Somber Poetic Tweet

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 6:49 am

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from Jim Lounsbury of Sydney, Australia. He is a writer and filmmaker who listens to NPR on his iPhone. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters and less to #TMMPoetry.

Remembrances
10:00 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Artist, Social Justice Activist Dies At 96

Host Michel Martin remembers American artist Elizabeth Catlett, who died this week at the age of 96. Catlett is known for integrating social justice activism in sculptures and prints. That activism caught the eye of the U.S. government at the height of McCarthyism. For years, she was banned from entering the U.S. from her adopted home of Mexico.

Economy
9:24 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Debt Struggles As Old As America Itself

An 18th century political cartoon entitled "A New Way to Pay the National Debt."
Library of Congress

As of today, the national debt held by the public is more than $10 trillion. That's more than $30,000 for every man, woman and child living in the United States.

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Book Reviews
5:30 am
Thu April 5, 2012

'Abstract City': Whimsical Eye Candy For Urbanites

Christoph Niemann

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:55 am

Imagine a Lego as tuna sushi, or a leaf as a pair of acid-washed jeans, or bathroom tiles made to resemble Warhol's Brillo box. These are only a few of the funny, unexpected, cleverly conceived and realized sights that make up Christoph Niemann's Abstract City, a book culled from the renowned illustrator's popular visual blog for The New York Times.

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Television
1:30 am
Thu April 5, 2012

With 'Scandal,' ABC Targets Black Female Viewers

In Scandal, Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope, a crisis manager based on real-life fixer Judy Smith.
ABC

On Thursday night, ABC's Scandal will step out as a rarity on TV: a show developed by one of the most powerful black women in TV, Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rimes, depicting a powerful black woman in Washington, D.C.: Olivia Pope, a top-flight crisis manager.

She's a "fixer" so impressive, she can negotiate down payments with the Ukrainian mob in a burst of rapid-fire dialogue. She is played by Kerry Washington, whom you might recognize from wife and girlfriend roles in films like The Fantastic Four and Ray.

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Theater
1:27 am
Thu April 5, 2012

A Fruitful Collaboration Still Yielding Broadway Hits

A crowd-pleasing revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar has transferred from Canada's Stratford Festival to Broadway.
Joan Marcus

Since they made their debut in 1971, it's been rare for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to not have a show on Broadway. But now they're ramping it up, with the opening of Evita following fast on the heels of Jesus Christ Superstar.

"It's actually just a coincidence as far as I can tell, because the two shows came from totally different sources," Rice says. "And by sheer chance, they've arrived within two or three weeks of each other on Broadway, which is fun!"

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Movies
1:26 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Many Colors Of Prejudice Are Revealed In 'Dark Girls'

Student Pamela Moore is one of the women interviewed in Dark Girls, a documentary on color discrimination by actor-director Bill Duke and co-director D. Channsin Berry.
Dark Girls, LLC

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 5:56 am

Bill Duke knew he was going to get flak from a lot of people before he ever turned the cameras on to film Dark Girls, a new documentary about the painful encounters dark-skinned black women experience in a society where lighter is usually considered better.

It's a subject that has, more often than not, been considered taboo to discuss outside the black community. So Duke knew making a general-distribution movie about color prejudice within the black community was definitely going to rub some black folks the wrong way.

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Monkey See
1:45 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Fred Savage: A Child Star Makes Good, With Less Than Wholesome Comedies

The face you may remember: Fred Savage cuddles up with a puppy on The Wonder Years, in a photo from December 1989.
ABC Photo Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 4:05 pm

Former Child Star Fatigue. Many of us have suffered it, given the drug problems, the meltdowns, the awful nude photos.

But then there's Fred Savage, who starred in the ABC show The Wonder Years from 1988 through 1993. Now he's a successful, slightly offbeat 35-five-year-old television producer and director. He works on wicked, slightly warped comedies including Party Down, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and as of today, Best Friends Forever. His first network sitcom premieres tonight on NBC.

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