Arts and culture

You know what they say: You can take the mutating ooze out of four ninjutsu-trained turtles, but you can't pry it out of a fan's greasy, pizza-clutching fists. Or something like that.

It's fitting that in an election year, we would be bombarded by presidential thrillers. Even presidential vampire thrillers. I previously reviewed Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth, which follows the story of a secret vampire agent who is bound by oath to every president of the United States since the 1860s. That novel already has a sequel, The President's Vampire.

Rapid growth in the U.S. Hispanic community has created another boom — in Hispanic media. In recent months, several major media players have announced plans to join the competition for the Hispanic television audience. There's a new Hispanic broadcast TV network coming, plus a host of new cable channels aimed at Latinos.

The numbers tell the story: According to the census, the U.S. Hispanic population jumped by more than 40 percent in the past decade. The nation's 50 million-plus Hispanics now make up 16 percent of the TV-viewing public.

Muses And Metaphor 2012

Apr 2, 2012

Poetry and social media join forces in April, as Tell Me More celebrates National Poetry Month with the Muses and Metaphor series. We'll feature poems exchanged via Twitter by NPR fans — always in 140 characters or fewer. Tweet your poem using the hashtag: #TMMPoetry.

The model that some are calling fashion's new "it" girl isn't a girl at all. Andrej Pejic takes the industry's on-again, off-again fascination with androgyny to a new extreme by modeling both menswear and women's wear for top designers like Jean Paul Gaultier.

Aziz Ansari is about to hit the road. The 29-year-old comedian and star of Parks and Recreation is embarking on a multicity comedy tour, where he'll be riffing on what he calls the "fears of adulthood."

You know, babies. Marriage. That kind of stuff.

The biggest female box-office star in Hollywood history, Doris Day started singing and dancing when she was a teenager, and made her first film when she was 24. After nearly 40 movies, she walked away from that part of her life in 1968, and started rescuing and caring for animals.

We have all felt the ethereal siren song of other universes — the thrilling suspicion that touching a certain ring may in fact suck you into a Wood Between the Worlds, or that if you walk just so between platforms nine and 10 at King's Cross Station, you might find yourself departing from platform nine and three-quarters. For some, the tingling sensation of magical lands fades after leaving childhood behind. But I still peer curiously into wardrobes, and thus here are three blazingly intelligent adult novels for the untamable Alice in all of us.

So, did Jesus really exist? With his new book, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, wanted to provide solid historical evidence for the existence of Jesus.

"I wanted to approach this question as an historian to see whether that's right or not," Ehrman tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

On-Air Challenge: Today's challenges are from an old English book called Lateral Thinking Puzzles by Hannah Robson and Nick Hoare. They all have a drinking theme, and they'll test your wits.

In Germany, a federal court has ruled that the German Historical Museum in Berlin must return a rare collection of handcrafted posters to the son of the original owner. The posters were seized by the Nazis from a Jewish art collector in the 1930s.

The case is one of dozens in recent years in which art stolen by the Nazis from Jews has been returned to descendants.

The most famous case involved Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The golden, shimmering painting of the high society hostess became known as Austria's Mona Lisa.




More than 6,000 stories came in this round of Three-Minute Fiction - 6000. Amazing. The challenge this time, the story had to begin with the sentence: She closed the book, placed it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door. It's going to take us several weeks to read through those stories and find a winner, but for now, here are a few samples of what some of you did with that sentence.


James Brown used to tell people that even being stillborn as a child couldn't stop him. He rose to the highest heights in the music industry and stayed there longer than most. But in the end he succumbed to atrocious financial planning, a drug habit and a violent temper.

RJ Smith, author of the new biography The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, tells NPR's Guy Raz that Brown believed he was indestructible.


'Scuse me, but is someone trying to kill off food critics?

What about themselves?

Frank Bruni, the former restaurant critic of The New York Times, now an op-ed columnist, has revealed that he has gout.

Gout is a painful inflammation of the joints that's been called the King's Disease because it's historically associated with the kind of gluttony only kings could afford: profuse servings of beef, lobster, goose liver and strong drink.

Carrie Brownstein founded Sleater Kinney, the coolest band to come out of the Pacific Northwest. She now has another awesome band called Wild Flag. She's a writer, music journalist and the creator and star of the brilliant sketch comedy show Portlandia about Portland, Ore.

We'll ask Brownstein three questions about the famously rigid city-state of Singapore, the diametrical opposite of Portland.

Snow White is having a moment.

The new movie Mirror Mirror stars Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen. In June, another Snow White movie opens starring another Oscar winner, Charlize Theron, in the same role. And Disney is working on a new animated film loosely based on Snow White set in 19th-century China. So what makes Snow White so right for right now?

Willem Dafoe is having a busy spring at the cineplex: he's had roles in the sci-fi epic John Carter and in the apocalyptic drama 4:44: Last Day On Earth -- and in the new eco-thriller The Hunter, Dafoe plays a mercenary hired by a mysterious biotech company trying to track the untrackable: a Tasmanian tiger.

The animal has been declared extinct, but throughout the film, townspeople whisper, even boast about recent sightings. Dafoe admits he didn't know much about the Tasmanian tiger before the film.

Today at All Things Considered we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories.

It's July 1960 in Philadelphia and a political party has gathered to nominate a presidential candidate — but both leading contenders are flawed, and the convention is deadlocked. Who's the best man for the job?

Gore Vidal's 1960 play The Best Man, which is getting a Broadway revival, will strike audiences as surprisingly timely.

One candidate is an intellectual liberal, the other a populist conservative. Director Michael Wilson says Vidal, the outspokenly liberal author of the play, wrote it with a very specific agenda in mind.



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. My next guest won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work on learning and memory, and he really needs no introduction as a neuroscientist. But there is another side to Eric Kandel that you may not know. He is an art collector, an historian of early 20th-century art in Germany and Austria, and he says he could have seen that passion as an alternate career path.

On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we're finally all back together again, with Trey back from his brief illness. As you might imagine from our past discussions, we did take some time this week to talk about The Hunger Games, because we've all read it, we all know it, and we know you know we know ... well, you know. We talk about the pacing, the acting, the faithfulness to the book, and lots more.

Customer Service Nightmares, Now Onstage

Mar 30, 2012

Playwright Lisa Kron mines her own life to create her often-hilarious work. She has written about being the child of a Holocaust survivor, and about her mother's struggles with chronic illness. Her latest play deals with a struggle common to all of us — the agony of computerized customer service.

AMC's The Killing started strong, with raves from critics and an impressively loyal core of viewers. But in the final episode of the year, when it left its season-long murder mystery intentionally unresolved, most fans felt angry, even betrayed. HBO's Game of Thrones, on the other hand, took a bit longer to get established, and to get as much attention. But thanks to some strong performances and a few bold strokes of plot, Game of Thrones — based on the George R. R.

On a recent commute to work, I found myself listening to a recording of Cole Porter playing a song he wrote, called "The Kling-Kling Bird On The Divi-Divi Tree." Published in 1935 and introduced in the show Jubilee, it's not an especially famous Porter number now, which is just as well, given the fact that its story of a man visiting strange lands and being seduced by exotic women has an unfortunate feeling of ...

A young female poet was speaking to a male poet at a party. "Women shouldn't write poems," he told her. "They are poems."

The young poet was a friend of Adrienne Rich, who used that story as an example of what female poets were up against in the 1950s and '60s, when she was first becoming established. Rich, who went on to become one of the first widely published contemporary feminist poets, died Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was 82.

This interview was originally broadcast on May 23, 1988.

Writer Harry Crews had a hard life and didn't made it any easier for the characters in his novels. He died Wednesday at age 76.

Crews' novels were filled with freaks and losers with unusual gifts. In Naked in Garden Hills, there was the 600-pound man with a penchant for dietary supplements. The Gospel Singer featured lunatics and carnival characters. Car showcased a man who literally ate a Ford Maverick, several ounces at a time.

Authors today vie for the attention of the reading public with interviews, Facebook postings and tweets. But Anne Tyler, whose 20th novel, The Beginner's Goodbye, is poised for release next week, has maintained her distance from the din. Famously shy, Tyler hasn't done a face to face broadcast interview in years, preferring perhaps to let her books speak for themselves.

Titanic is back. The 1997 blockbuster featuring star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose is being released in 3-D. Starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic was the highest-grossing movie in history — until Avatar.

Both films were directed by James Cameron, who has just returned from a landmark expedition to the deepest point in the ocean: a spot in the far western Pacific called the Challenger Deep.

Mirror Mirror, one of several Snow White adaptations currently kicking around in popular culture, is a welcome and entertaining surprise: a gorgeous, frothy comedy that, like Enchanted and The Princess Bride before it, operates both as a fairy tale movie and as a sendup of same.

Some people are just meant to be together — even after they're dead. That's the premise of writer-director Benedek Fliegauf's Womb, a movie whose slender narrative is little more than that premise, yet whose themes prove bigger than the story.

Love between the living and the undead is all the rage in Hollywood movies, but Womb is no Twilight. Shot in Germany by a Hungarian with an English-speaking cast, the movie is more akin to 2004's Birth.