Arts/Life

Arts and culture

This weekend, the Farrelly Brothers' version of The Three Stooges arrives in theaters. You'll see plenty of Larry, Moe and Curly. But who won't you see? Shemp. Or, as NPR's Sue Goodwin calls him, "Uncle Shemp."

Permanent Siesta: 3 Books To Whisk You Away

Apr 13, 2012

One doesn't necessarily associate spring travel with heavy reading. For one, books are bulky luggage, the weighty enemies of economical packers; even an e-reader takes up precious space in one's overflowing duffel. And two, escapist migration to mountaintops or flowery fields or seaside locales for sun worship and meditative communion with nature connotes a markedly book-free environment, an escape from the office or the solemn halls of academe.

When M. Night Shyamalan's fantasy film The Last Airbender — panned by both critics and fans of the wildly popular TV series on which it was based — flopped majestically at the box office, it looked like the end of a valuable franchise.

But now, with The Legend of Korra, which premieres Saturday on Nickelodeon, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have been given a rare chance to rebuild a world that was taken away from them.

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from translator and writer Susan Layug of Chicago, Illinois. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

This Sunday, HBO premieres a new comedy series that's written and directed by Lena Dunham, who grabbed the media spotlight in 2010 with her film Tiny Furniture. She's 25 years old now, and stars in this new TV series as well.

This interview was originally broadcast on October 20, 2011.

A few years after her younger brother John died from AIDS-related complications in 1989, poet Marie Howe wrote him a poem in the form of a letter. Called "What the Living Do," the poem is an elegiac description of loss, and of living beyond loss.

Whenever a lead singer's star presence, whether through force of vision or excess of vanity, eclipses the collective unit of a rock band, the other members become — to quote the great Cameron Crowe rock odyssey Almost Famous — "the out-of-focus guys."

At the start of a bright, sunny day that seems otherwise like any other day, a popular teacher is found dead in her classroom. It was suicide.

The school is traumatized, especially that teacher's students. By the next day, the principal is at her wits' end trying to find someone willing to take the class. So when Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) offers to teach, it comes at just the right moment.

The animated film Chico and Rita is set in 1940s Havana, at a time when Cuban musicians were starting to leave the country and join the jazz scene in New York. It was also a time when musical styles were fusing — and changing the Afro-Cuban jazz scene entirely.

The film tells the story of Chico, one of the best piano players in Havana, and Rita, his sultriest singer. They're lovers, and eventually their migration takes them past New York to Paris — criss-crossing continents to make music while struggling to keep themselves and their relationship afloat.

Surviving 'Immobility' And End Times

Apr 12, 2012

Stories about the end of the world are as old as literature itself. From the tale of Noah's Ark to the plague-ravaged landscapes of Mary Shelley's controversial 1826 novel The Last Man, writers have long held a morbid fascination with the possibility of a future apocalypse.

Mike Huckabee fell short four years ago in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. As of this week, the former Arkansas governor has a new job: national radio talk show host.

The Mike Huckabee Show started Monday with an anticipatory flourish.

"Welcome to the community of conversation. You've just made a right turn, and you've arrived at the corner of conservatism and common sense," he said. "In this show, we're going to be confronting the issues — not the listeners."

New In Paperback April 9-15

Apr 11, 2012

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Mary Gordon, Henning Mankell, Jim Rasenberger, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Charles J. Ogletree Jr. and Meghan O'Rourke .

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

Nadine Gordimer's trademark characters live for politics, the Struggle. You get the feeling they would be sick to their collective stomachs if they ever even tried to bite into a gourmet cupcake.

Virginia Author Remembers Nostalgic Summers

Apr 11, 2012

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, guest host Viviana Hurtado shares a poetic tweet from author and professor Luisa Igloria of Norfolk, Virginia. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

The 19th New York African Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, with a wide selection of films exploring ideas of home and homeland. Guest host Viviana Hurtado speaks with the festival's founder Mahen Bonetti, and documentary filmmaker Laura Gamse, who is showing her film The Creators about South African artists.

Carole King initially found it extremely difficult to navigate the social hierarchies of high school. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter was a few years younger than her fellow classmates and was often dismissed as being "cute."

"And it was like, no, I don't want to be cute, I want to be beautiful and smart," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And that wasn't happening, and then I connected through music. So music became a way of identifying my particular niche. How lucky for me."

In the most vital essay on crime fiction ever written — Raymond Chandler's 1944 apologia "The Simple Art of Murder" — Chandler paid this tribute to his hard-boiled predecessor, Dashiell Hammett: "Hammett took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley."

Earlier this month, tenor Juan Diego Florez made headlines when he sang the aria "Una furtiva lagrima" in the Donizetti opera L'elisir D'Amore at the Metropolitan Opera — not once, but twice.

The audience responded so enthusiastically that after well over a minute of applause and shouts of "Encore!" he sang the whole thing again — all five minutes of it.

Greta Gerwig, who stars in Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress, has made a name in indie films like Greenberg with a style that stands out for its naturalism. In Damsels, she inhabits the role of Violet, a bright, sweet, sincere college girl as only a bright, sweet, sincere former college girl could.

Parenting has changed in the past few decades. My mother didn't work while raising her first three children, finally going back when I was 4. She didn't have to worry about car seats or tummy time or how much television we watched.

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from writer and artist Heather Feaga from Phoenix, Arizona. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

Most pitchers in the majors stick to fastballs, curveballs, sliders and change-ups when facing batters at the plate.

But not New York Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey. Dickey is currently the only knuckleball pitcher in a current rotation. At 37, he's also one of the older pitchers in the league and has seen his career — and life — mimic the erratic trajectory of the difficult pitch he throws game after game.

'Kinect Star Wars': Flawed, But Welcome

Apr 10, 2012

Maybe it's the wide-eyed child that still exists within me. But I happen to like much of the dialog and some of the narrative in Kinect Star Wars.

I hadn't even heard the ruckus about how Ashley Judd looks that's apparently kicked up since the debut of her ABC series, Missing. But she did.

And she's written a piece for the Daily Beast about it.

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

Apr 10, 2012

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.

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.

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.

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.

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")

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