On a Saturday night, the bridge that links downtown El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juarez in Mexico is hauntingly still. Once, this was a border crossing flush with life; now, after years of brutal drug violence, it's like a graveyard. It's certainly not the border that American author Benjamin Alire Saenz recalls from his high school days.
"We'd all pile in a couple of cars. There'd be like 10 of us and we'd come over to Juarez," Saenz remembers. "We'd go to all these places like The Cave, the Club Hawaii ... the Kentucky Club ... and we would just have a good time and laugh."
In the aftermath of last year's Newtown, Conn., school shootings, the Entertainment Software Association, which serves computer and video game publishers, issued a statement saying that years of research has shown no connection between entertainment and real-world violence.
But there's still a connection between video game makers and real-world gun makers.
It all started one night when writer Amanda Filipacchi was browsing through Wikipedia and noticed an absence of women under the category "American novelists." At first, she thought the female writers being moved off the page were not important enough to be on it. But then she discovered some obscure male novelists were still listed, while some well-known women were not.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:27 pm
Apparently, fan fiction and fan art aren't the only options for expressing your love of Sherlock, Doctor Who and The Hunger Games. There's also tea.
If you visit the online tea store of Adagio Teas, you'll find a collection of "Fandom Blends." They're the teas that customers have mixed and named after characters in favorite TV shows, books, movies and comics.
Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 8:23 am
In the world of television, there's nothing quite like a soap habit. People watch characters evolve not over the 10 or 15 seasons that might mark a long run in prime time, but over 30 or 40 years, until they have kids and grandkids — sometimes played by the same actors the entire time.
When Marc Maron started his podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in September 2009, he was in a dark place: He was going through a divorce, his comedy career had hit a wall and — in his mid-40s — he didn't have a Plan B.
"I was at a place in my life where I had gotten very cynical," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I had lost a lot of hope for my comedy and everything else, and I really feel that I was no longer able to really appreciate other people's stories. I had lost my ability to really kind of listen and enjoy the company of other people."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the story of one of the world's biggest and most destructive industries, tourism. Author Elizabeth Becker talks about the explosion in travel since the Cold War.
Iron Man 3 doesn't open in North America until this Friday (May 3), but this weekend, it's already up and whomping The Avengers at the international box office. The new adventures of Tony Stark, directed and co-written by Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black, brought in $195.3 million. That beat a mere $185.1 million when The Avengers opened internationally to make it the biggest opening weekend ever in a bunch of countries, including Argentina and Indonesia.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 12:00 pm
"No man but a blockhead," Samuel Johnson famously observed, "ever wrote, except for money." This is tough news for poets, since the writing they do is often less immediately profitable than a second-grader's math homework (the kid gets a cookie or a hug; the poet gets a rejection letter from The Kenyon Review). Poetry itself is tremendously valuable, of course, but that value is often realized many years after a poem's composition, and sometimes long after the end of its author's life.
When he was a teenager, journalist Rod Dreher couldn't wait to escape Louisiana. Now he has found his way home again in grief — after his sister's death from lung cancer. It was "in light" of that tragedy, Dreher says, that he discovered the value of community. It's the subject of his new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.
Foodie fiction has become a veritable genre, devoted to deliciousness, to making your mouth water, to making you feel suddenly, irrevocably starved — and to making everything, sprouts and bologna included, an aphrodisiac. But what happens when enough is enough? Or when, perhaps, you're on a diet, or a deserted island, or attempting celibacy, or learning to live without gluten? What happens when you're hungry for the kind of fiction that concerns food but isn't in love with food — and thereby won't make you hungry, or lustful, or both?
April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, Weekend Edition is talking with younger poets about why they chose to write poetry and why it's still important in our everyday lives. This week, we spoke to Bangladeshi-American poet Dilruba Ahmed.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 7:52 am
April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than with new poetry releases? Here are four of this month's highlights — a new translation, a "best of" collection, a "collected works" worth revisiting and a camera-eye view of the world.
The Divine Comedy
The season premiere of Mad Men opened with John Ciardi's 1954 translation of Dante's Inferno:
Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.
Nominations for the Tony Awards, Broadway's annual honors, will be announced April 30. Among the shows eligible: loud London transplants like Matilda the Musical, a new play by David Mamet, a revival of David Mamet, two revivals of Clifford Odets and a revival of the '70s musical Pippin.
Lots of Hollywood stars have made the trek to Broadway this season, ranging from Scarlett Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Tom Hanks in Norah Ephron's last play, Lucky Guy.
Brendan, Cordelia and Eleanor Walker were suspicious from the first. They may be young — Cordelia is 15, Brendan is 12 and Eleanor is 8 — but they have enough worldly experience to know that when a real estate agent says a place is charming and rustic, she means that it's small and has wild bears in the backyard. So when the siblings first hear about the house at 28 Sea Cliff Avenue in San Francisco, they're skeptical. And their caution is quite warranted; the Kristoff House, as it's called, turns out to hold secrets, magic, skeleton pirates and a behemoth who looks like Mick Jagger.
When Edna O'Brien wrote The Country Girls in 1960, the book was acclaimed by critics, banned by the Irish Censorship Board and burned in churches for suggesting that the two small-town girls at the center of the book had romantic lives. Oh, why be obscure? Sex lives.
April is National Poetry Month. And throughout the month, WEEKEND EDITION is speaking with younger poets about the importance of poetry in daily life. This morning, we hear from translator and poet Kazim Ali.
After World War II, America became a superpower. New York experienced a global rise; Los Angeles was sprawling. But in a new book, Thomas Dyja writes that "the most profound aspects of American Modernity grew up out of the flat, prairie land next to Lake Michigan" — Chicago.
Kal Penn has a pretty unusual resume: He has starred in Harold and Kumar, the most successful series of stoner movies made in the past decade; and has served in the White House as the Obama administration's liaison to youth. Now he's hosting a new show, The Big Brain Theory, on the Discovery Channel.
Actor, singer and comedian David Hyde Pierce is best known for his Emmy-winning role as Niles Crane on the long-running TV series Frasier. He's also a Tony-winning actor for his role in Curtains. As a child, Pierce began in classical music as a pianist, but one summer, that all changed.
Writer Joel Arnold is surveying the scene at the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs in New York City through April 28. He'll be filing occasional dispatches for Monkey See.
I keep going back to the documentaries. Out of the 14 films I've seen here so far, the documentaries have consistently offered some of the most inherently dynamic subjects — and served up surprising moments of discovery.