Arts and culture

Our Roaring 20s: 'The Defining Decade'

Apr 22, 2012

It's almost that time of year again, when a new crop of 20-something college graduates prepares to take those first steps into the working world.

In her new book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now, University of Virginia clinical psychologist Meg Jay argues that those first years of adulthood are the most important time in a young person's life.

Jay recently joined NPR's Rachel Martin to discuss why the 20s are such a crucial age for both college grads and non-college grads.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus knows it must seem like she's "arrived," as NPR's Rachel Martin says during their discussion on Sunday's Weekend Edition. She's well-known from Seinfeld, of course, but she's also been on Saturday Night Live, and for five seasons held down her own CBS sitcom, The New Adventures Of Old Christine. Her new HBO comedy, Veep, in which she plays the vice president to an unseen and unknown president, premieres Sunday night.

As an Afghan-American woman, Saima Wahab straddles two worlds — disparate places that have been brought together over the past decade by war.

Wahab has literally mediated those two worlds. As a Pashto translator and cultural adviser for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, she often found herself standing between American soldiers and Afghan civilians.

In her new memoir, In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate, Wahab writes about leaving Afghanistan as a young girl, growing up in the United States and later returning to her birth country.

More and more, audiences are getting to know Jason Segel. After featured roles in Judd Apatow projects like Freaks and Geeks and Knocked Up, Segel has gone on to star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets -- both of which he wrote — and he also plays a lead on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

But even as Segel is an increasingly leading man, his characters don't exactly fit the leading-man mold. They're more beta than alpha males — tall but unassuming, likeable and understanding.

On-Air Challenge: You'll be given classic advertising slogans and catch phrases in which the letters of the last word are scrambled. First, unscramble the word. Then name the product or company that is the advertiser. For example, given "Get a piece of the cork," the answer would be "Get a piece of the rock," which is a slogan of the Prudential Insurance Company.

Pop Culture's 40-Year Itch

Apr 21, 2012



And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. And we're going to talk about music, movies and culture now, and in particular, about something known as the 40-year rule. Adam Gopnik is with us now from New York. He's written about it for the latest issue of The New Yorker. Hello, Adam.

ADAM GOPNIK: Hey, Guy. How are you?

RAZ: I'm good. Let's explain this with a pop quiz, Adam. You know the answers. so don't give it away because this is for the listeners.

GOPNIK: All right.

Jorja Leap has spent time in crisis zones from Bosnia to New Orleans. As an international expert in crisis intervention, she never expected to end up doing most of her work in her own backyard.

Ten years ago, Leap returned to her hometown of Los Angeles to work with some of the toughest gangs around. A UCLA alumna with a Ph.D. in psychological anthropology, Leap works with outreach and intervention programs spanning Los Angeles' most gang-saturated territories.

This is the weekend they try to make Zac Efron a grown-up movie star.

The last piece of published writing from one of America's greatest writers was a series of letters he sent back from the front lines of war at the age of 64.

John Steinbeck's reports shocked readers and family so much that they've never been reprinted — until now.

Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 for a life's work writing about those who had been roughed up by history — most notably his Depression-era novels, Of Mice And Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Four years later, Steinbeck left for Vietnam to cover the war firsthand.

There's a lot of juicy material for an actor in Tennessee Williams' landmark drama A Streetcar Named Desire. Sex, booze, class, betrayal — all set in the seething French Quarter of 1940s New Orleans.

A new Broadway revival has added another set of layers to the play: The multiracial production stars Blair Underwood in one of the most iconic roles in American theater — Stanley Kowalski.

'Racist' Cake Episode Cuts The Wrong Way

Apr 20, 2012

When Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden's culture minister, cut into a cake last Sunday, she had no idea the act would spark an international incident.



I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're going to head into the Barber Shop in just a few minutes. But first, the latest in our series Muses and Metaphor.


For a few months now, we've been talking about putting together a special episode where I could sit down with Parul Sehgal, Barrie Hardymon, and Tanya Ballard Brown for what some of the men on the usual panel were referring to as "Gorgeous Ladies Of Pop Culture Happy Hour." It was, believe it or not, a complete coincidence that we finally pulled it together during the week that HBO premiered Lena Dunham

Springtime is the season of renewal, but it can also be a season of ambivalence. After all, for something to be made new and fresh, it first has to have gotten old and worn. Perhaps this is why some of the best poets of spring are masters of minor-key feelings like doubt, sadness and regret — every rebirth, as they know, contains a little death.

How much would you pay for a very rare book?

The British Library in London has just paid about $14 million to purchase Europe's oldest intact book, known as the St. Cuthbert Gospel. It's a copy of the Gospel of St. John, thought to have been produced in northeastern England sometime during the seventh century.

After shooting in London, Barcelona and Paris, Woody Allen made his latest European backdrop Rome. To Rome With Love opens Friday in Italy — in Italian.

The movie is a magnificent postcard of the eternal city — a carefree romp along cobblestone streets nestled between ancient ruins and Renaissance palaces. A soft yellow glow pervades every scene. It projects an image of the sweet life with all the charms under the Italian sun, set to the tune of old standbys like "Volare" and "Arrivederci Roma."

In the three decades since his 1981 death from cancer, Bob Marley's legacy has only grown. His recordings still dominate reggae sales charts, and his face is still emblazoned on T-shirts and dorm-room walls — an image as ubiquitous and iconic as Che Guevara, with less militant or overtly political connotations.

There's nothing like the intensity of young love, but that descriptor cuts in many ways at once. Feelings so pure and intoxicating can never be repeated, but they cannot be controlled, either, by the wisdom and maturity that enrich and sustain a relationship in the long term. Intensity can curdle just as quickly into jealousy, possessiveness and depression; when a heartsick teenager uses a phrase like "I'll die without him," adults may roll their eyes, but it's just barely a figure of speech.

It's a classic scenario in sentimental fiction: An adorable orphan humanizes a crusty old codger. "Humanize" might not seem the obvious verb for what happens in Chimpanzee, Disneynature's latest kiddie documentary. But it's dead on; this escape to the planet of the apes is anthropomorphic to a fault.

'Henry': A Fractured Family, And A Would-Be Savior

Apr 19, 2012

Jesus Christ does not actually appear in Jesus Henry Christ except as a frequent expletive, suggesting that the New Testament star's titular shout-out is meant as a provocation.

"Are you shocked yet?" the movie seems to be asking, over and over again. "What if we throw in a carnival of gruesome family deaths, a foreign doctor who mispronounces 'semen' and a jive-talking white man in African garb?" To sell the story of a mature and soft-spoken child prodigy, the filmmakers employ bad taste in a bid for attention. They act out.

It is said of one well-liked Hollywood purveyor of cheerfully inept romantic comedies that he doesn't actually direct movies — he hosts them. That quip sprang unbidden to mind at a screening of the genially terrible Darling Companion, a therapeutic intervention passing as family dramedy for our times.

The world's oldest profession is one of cinema's oldest subjects, sometimes employed for pathos or political metaphor, but often glamorized. Austrian documentarian Michael Glawogger's Whores' Glory is no Pretty Woman. But neither does it qualify as an expose.

The movie, which shifts from Thailand to Bangladesh to Mexico, aspires to a cinema-verite style. Yet it's unusually well-lighted and -composed for on-the-fly footage, and includes scenes that appear to be staged.

Oy, the things daters have to worry about these days. Not just how to dress, act and turn "no" into "go," but how not to become a chirp-chirp girl.

Pants Trend Makes A Red-Hot Statement

Apr 19, 2012

What is up with all the red pants lately? Audie Cornish turns to Nick Sullivan, fashion director of Esquire Magazine, to find out. Sullivan confirms that red pants are a trend, with roots in the day outfits worn by members of the New York Yacht club.

It's not every day that I get a pitch that basically says, "Watch our video; it's so cute!" that actually works.

My favorite story in Israeli writer Etgar Keret's new collection starts with a hipster trying to make a movie and ends with him being brought back to life by a goldfish after being bludgeoned to death. The story, "What, of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?" features the best of Keret's distinctive style. At barely seven pages long, it's wildly succinct; the premise is absurd and tender; the social perspective is unapologetically irreverent; and the language is spare and vivid, moving like a shot from point A to B.

Washingtonian Rashida Jolley is known for bringing an unusual instrument into the worlds of pop, R&B and hip-hop: the harp.

The casting of Magic Mike was attention-getting from the start.

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