Ever since Eli Whitney invented the Beef Gin in 1793, hamburgers have basically been the same: an all-beef patty, eaten as quickly as possible. But now, new technologies are allowing burgerologists to expand the medium. Chef's Burger Bistro in Chicago has created the B50 Burger, with a patty that's 50 percent ground beef, 50 percent ground bacon. And then there's a fried egg thrown on top, just for fun.
This is FRESH AIR. Now that the late-night talk show wars have settled down again, our TV critic David Bianculli says there's a talk show we should be watching that's not broadcast by CBS, NBC or ABC or even Comedy Central. It's "The Graham Norton Show," imported by BBC America and shown on Saturday nights. Here's David's review.
The season finale of the FX TV series Fargo airs Tuesday. The series is an "original adaptation" of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 film, a dark comedy set in the wintry landscape of rural Minnesota. Nearly 20 years ago, the film won Oscars for best screenplay and best actress.
The 10-episode TV series has a different story and characters, but critics agree that it captured the look and tone of the film, mixing eccentric characters and deadpan humor with sudden and savageviolence.
Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 12:53 pm
The fact that Casey Kasem, the 82-year-old co-creator and host of the American Top 40 Countdown, reportedly died peacefully while surrounded by his three children, despite a previous tug-of-war between his children and second wife, seems not only fortunate but apt. It means his death can honor his career's great achievement.
Now we're going to hear from Andy Marra - a transgender activist who writes about different kind of freedom - freedom from wondering about her roots and fear of not being accepted. She spoke to us about finding her birth mother in Korea after coming out as transgender. For a regular segment we call In Your Ear, she shared some of the songs that helped her write that story.
ANDY MARRA: My name is Andy Marra and I am listening to "Lullabies" by Yuna.
Despite watching a great deal of television â€” highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow â€” I don't watch Game of Thrones. I have never been a fantasy fan, I can't tolerate extensive world-building without nodding off, I don't gravitate toward stories about epic wars, and I'm not particularly drawn by either nudity or innard-splattering. I watched more than half of the first season, I think, but I eventually reached a point in which my brain emphatically said, "This is not going to get better for us."
SCOTT SIMON, BYLINE: And back when the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq in 2003, a young reporter was getting his start in the world of magazines. Michael Hastings went on to report from the war in Iraq and became best known for a 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was then head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The article ultimately ended Gen. McChrystal's military career.
Douglas Kearney's new book of poetry, Patter, is not something you pick up casually. It demands a lot from its audience â€” one reviewer wrote that the book's readers must be "agile, adaptive, vigilant and tough."
But the payoff is worth it. Kearney takes his readers into an extremely private struggle, shared with his wife: their attempt to conceive a child. The poems trace a journey through infertility, miscarriage, in vitro fertilization and, finally, fatherhood.
When you mention quilts to non-quilters, many think of chintz and florals, pastel ducks and alphabet blocks. It's true that many quilts are like that, in novels as well as in junk shops and craft shows.
However, some novels use quilts in a much darker, more robust way, the writers mercifully avoiding the temptation to blithely suggest that "life is a patchwork quilt."
So forget the chintz. Here are three books where quilts and quilters kick butt.
Tracy Chevalier's most recent novel is The Last Runaway.
For most of us, even one bite of chocolate is enough to send our taste buds into ecstasy. Now, scientists have concocted a process to make these dark, dulcet morsels look as decadent as they taste.
Switzerland-based company Morphotonix has given traditional Swiss chocolate-making a colorful twist: It's devised a method to imprint shiny holograms onto the sweet surfaces â€” sans harmful additives. Which means when you tilt the goodies from side to side, rainbow stars and swirly patterns on the chocolate's surface dance and shimmer in the light.
Nat and her family are going to Hawaii on a family vacation. Now, she's 17 and has a younger brother named Sam. The family looks forward to massages and fabulous dinners and shows. But their parents aren't coming back. They live in a mid-21st century world in which people can live to 110, but instead often choose to die. The planet they knew is being destroyed by tsunamis, heat waves, hurricanes, famines, foul water and the Great Pacific Trash Vortex. Garbage that's formed a mass bigger than South America in the ocean.
"How To Train Your Dragon 2" opens this weekend around the country. The Academy Award winning sound designer Randy Thom, who's worked for NPR, did the sound design for this animated film and we asked him to deconstruct one particular scene where the hero, Hiccup, confronts a menacing group of dragons in the cave.
After his unexpected defeat in the Republican primary, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor opened a press conference by saying, "In the Jewish faith, you know, I grew up, went to Hebrew school, read a lot in the Old Testament, and you learn a lot about individual setbacks."
This is not mere piety, and the King James Version of the Bible, made up of the Old Testament and the New, is a terrific book. The heroes of these stories do not lead the race wire to wire. Those who are elevated are tested and taught by disaster.
Each line of work has its own cryptic code: words and phrases that would baffle any outsider. These terms may sound like nonsense to someone with untrained ears, but to those who operate in a certain world, their meanings are as clear as day.
To get a better handle on some of the stranger things people say at work, All Things Considered is kicking off a new series called "Trade Lingo." It's a quest to mine the jewels of meaning beneath the jargon.
Suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark is an enormously prolific author, so we've invited her to come play a game called "I got nothin'." Three questions about authors who suffer from the dreaded curse of Writer's Block, inspired by "Blocked: Why Do Writers Stop Writing?" a New Yorker article by Joan Acocella.
Our next poet laureate may end up speaking on behalf of the more private duties of the poet â€” contemplation, wisdom, searching â€” rather than public ones. In one of his first public statements after learning of his new post, Charles Wright said that, as laureate, "I'll probably stay here at home and think about things." He also told NPR, "I will not be an activist laureate, I don't think, the way Natasha [Trethewey] was ... and certainly not the way Billy Collins was, or Bob Hass, or Rita Dove, or Robert Pinsky; you know, they had programs. I have no program."
About two years ago, playwright David Henry Hwang turned down an offer to write a play about the brief life and suicide of Army Pvt. Danny Chen.
But an opera? He couldn't refuse.
"This is a story with big emotions, big primary colors in a way, and big plot events," says Hwang, who wrote the libretto for An American Soldier, a new hourlong opera commissioned by Washington National Opera.
Obvious Child centers on Donna Stern, an aspiring standup comic in her late 20s who's out of her depth in the grown-up world. After getting smashed and having unprotected sex with a guy she barely knows, Donna discovers she's pregnant and decides to have an abortion. It shouldn't be a particularly earthshaking turn. But in a world of rom-coms like Knocked Up and Juno, in which the heroines make the heartwarming decision to go ahead with their pregnancies, this modest little indie movie feels momentous.
In a summer of sequels â€” 16 in all â€” this weekend is the sequelliest, offering blockbuster deja-vu (How To Train Your Dragon 2 AND 22 Jump Street) as well as a few object lessons in how to train your audience. One film goes all meta with its concept, the other goes back to basics, and for a change, both approaches work.