Arts

Critics' Lists: Summer 2013
2:59 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Summer Adventure: 5 Thrilling, Chilling, Far-Ranging Reads

Andrew Bannecker

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 6:38 pm

Reading always turns any season into summer. Maybe it's because I associate my first bouts of time with books with time out of school, with summer afternoons on the back porch when the weather made it too hot to play, and the air seemed just quiet enough that you could focus your early reading skills on the page before you and make a story emerge from the shapes and squiggles printed there. Even for someone as fortunate as I am, someone who reads for a living, summer always feels like a special time.

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Author Interviews
1:02 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

'Americanah' Author Explains 'Learning' To Be Black In The U.S.

iStockPhoto.com

When the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was growing up in Nigeria she was not used to being identified by the color of her skin. That changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn.

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Monkey See
1:01 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Murder, Lego, And (Of Course) Zombies: Notes From The E3 Expo

In this shot from the game Saints Row IV, it sure looks like somebody is warding off an attack with a guitar.
Deep Silver

Of the over 15 I've slogged through, this year's E3 Expo was, hands down, the best video game conference I've attended. The new consoles will give us hyper-realistic games. For drama, Sony at their press event outright insulted Microsoft. Most importantly, there were plenty of new games, and they looked better than the many banal franchise games on the show floor. To call these the most promising games of E3 isn't to say they're the best games of E3. To be the best, the games will have to be played and finished and considered.

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Movie Reviews
1:01 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Two Master Moviemakers, Two Singularly Fine Films

Saoirse Ronan plays Eleanor, an ancient (and uncharacteristically ethical) vampire in Neil Jordan's Byzantium.
IFC Films

The decade of the 1980s — when major corporations made their presence more felt in Hollywood — was for all kinds of reasons a low point in American moviegoing. But two beacons abroad, Pedro Almodovar and Neil Jordan, reminded us with movies like Law of Desire, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Mona Lisa how films could be personal and still reach a large (or large-ish) audience.

Thirty years later, we have Almodovar's I'm So Excited and Jordan's Byzantium — and these directors are still shining a light.

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Ask Me Another
12:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Consonant Weight Loss Plan

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 8:02 am

Like people, words are sometimes a bit thick around the middle. So we've opened a special clinic in which we remove the interior consonants from words, and they emerge slimmer and more confident. For example. if you have the word "story" and remove its interior consonants, you get "soy." This game is a workout for your brain.

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Ask Me Another
12:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Celebrity AA Meeting

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 8:02 am

Ready for some juicy gossip about the latest celeb to fall off the wagon? You'll have to visit TMZ for that, because the only "AA meeting" happening in this game is between celebrities' first and last names. Host Ophira Eisenberg doles out clues to famous people whose first names end with, and whose last names begin with, the letter "A."

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Ask Me Another
12:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

State Of Mind

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:17 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Now, we're going to crown this week's grand champion. Let's bring back, from Oh, Oxymoron, Amy Patrick.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: From Celebrity AA Meeting: Joslyn Hansen. From Imperial Pets: Denise Grab. From Not Like the Others: Michael Crommett. And from Consonant Weight Loss Plan: Thomas Taylor.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I'm gong to ask our puzzle guru John Chaneski to crown our winner.

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Ask Me Another
12:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Not Like The Others

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:17 am

Out of the four things on house musician Jonathan Coulton's list, try to figure out which one does not belong and why. His clues cover everything from nursery rhymes, to wonders of the world, to a certain song by Mr. Rick Astley.

And afterwards, Coulton covers a song about a person who is not like the others: Radiohead's "Creep."

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Ask Me Another
12:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Imperial Pets

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:17 am

When it comes to pets, it's hard not to treat them as little versions of yourself. Just ask Katy Perry, who fondly named her cat Kitty Purry. (True story.) In this game, we focus on people who are a little more highbrow, while simultaneously subjecting them the lowest form of humor. Host Ophira Eisenberg asks you to make animal puns out of the names of world leaders, like "Chairman Meow."

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Ask Me Another
12:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Oh, Oxymoron

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:17 am

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms, such as "deafening silence" or "living dead." Speaking of contradictory, house musician Jonathan Coulton applies his mellow acoustic guitar to a song by the electric wizard, Jimi Hendrix, because all clues in this round are sung to the tune of "Foxy Lady."

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Arts & Life
11:44 am
Thu June 27, 2013

So Hard To Say Goodbye: Advice For Farewell Notes

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 2:37 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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The Salt
11:07 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Moonshine As Moneymaker? Eastern Tennessee Will Drink To That

Ole Smoky has helped revitalize the local economy in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The distillery sources its corn, jars and other packaging locally, and employs more than 150 people.
Van Gallik Courtesy of Ole Smoky

Moonshine is trendy these days, with distillers large and small throughout the country offering up their own variety. But in eastern Tennessee, locals will tell you they've got the real "white lightning." Everyone seems to boast a family connection, and everyone has his or her own recipe.

"It's a local point of pride, a big part of eastern Tennessee family tradition," says Robert Cremins, a college student from Knoxville. Many in the region identify themselves with moonshine, Cremins tells The Salt. "I grew up hearing stories about moonshine."

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Monkey See
9:12 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Why Paula Deen Can't Be A 'Food Network Star'

Seen here in 2009, Paula Deen recently lost her ongoing deal with Food Network.
Katy Winn AP

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 4:17 am

It's not the least bit surprising that Paula Deen lost her gig on The Food Network — and you don't have to believe she's a terrible person to know it. All you have to do is watch Food Network Star, the competition show that seeks a new network personality and sometimes finds one.

That's where they got Aarti Sequeira, who now hosts the Indian food show Aarti Party. It's where they got Aaron McCargo, Jr., who hosts Big Daddy's House. And Melissa d'Arabian, who hosts Ten Dollar Dinners, and Jeff Mauro, who calls himself "The Sandwich King."

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Globetrotting Cartoonist Heads Home In 'User's Guide'

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 10:25 am

It looks like a last-minute gift, like one of those tiny tomes that live near the register on the counter of your favorite bookstore, hoping to catch the attention (or at least the impulse) of shoppers in the check-out line. Given its digest-sized dimensions and jokey title, you'd be forgiven for assuming A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting is a hastily assembled collection of cornball homilies, like those miniature books about dads, grads and golf that double as greeting cards this time of year. But don't be fooled.

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Fine Art
2:04 am
Thu June 27, 2013

A Paris Vacation For Nashville Millionaires' French Art

A table (Le Dejeuner), an 1892 oil painting by Edouard Vuillard, appears to show a quiet domestic scene. But Isabelle Cahn, the curator of a new show at the Musee d'Orsay, says this painting actually depicts a scandal-ridden household.
Courtesy Musee d'Orsay

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 10:05 am

To say that Nashvillean Spencer Hays is crazy for French art is an understatement. "French art just quickens our step, fires our spirit and touches our heart," he says.

Hays' passion began when he was in his 30s. By then he was already a millionaire; Forbes estimated his worth at $400 million in 1997, money earned from book-selling and clothing businesses. Hays had humble beginnings.

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Music Reviews
11:12 am
Wed June 26, 2013

'My Ellington': A Pianist Gives Duke Her Personal Touch

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) at the piano at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, during a British tour on Feb. 10, 1963.
John Pratt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 2:50 pm

At the keys, Duke Ellington abstracted from stride piano, which modernized ragtime. Ellington's own spare percussive style then refracted through Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor, as well as a generation of freewheeling pianists active in Europe, like Aki Takase. Her new solo piano album is My Ellington, on which she plays some stride bass herself, as in "In a Mellow Tone."

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Beauty Shop
10:31 am
Wed June 26, 2013

'Devious Maids' On TV: Thumbs Up Or Down?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Today, Texas is scheduled to execute the 500th prisoner since the death penalty was reintroduced. We are going to introduce you to Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first prisoner released from death row 20 years ago because of DNA evidence.

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The Two-Way
6:15 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Book News: Turkish Protesters Form 'Taksim Square Book Club'

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed June 26, 2013

'The Hare' Leads A Merry Chase

iStockphoto.com

To love the novels of Cesar Aira you must have a taste for the absurd, a tolerance for the obscurely philosophical and a willingness to laugh out loud against your better judgment. His latest novel to be translated into English, The Hare, is set in the Argentine pampas at the end of the 19th century. But don't let any veneer of realism fool you.

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Tina Brown's Must-Reads
1:28 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Tina Brown's Must-Reads: On Media, The People, And Strife

Inspired by "Standing Man" Erdem Gunduz, protesters stand silently during an action at Istanbul's Taksim Square on June 23. Among the latest recommended reads from Tina Brown is a Foreign Affairs article on how Turkey's manipulates media coverage of political unrest.
Burak Kara Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 9:13 am

Sometimes when there's a daily drumbeat of news — war, protest, unrest — it's good to find those moments to pause, dig deeper, and find layers of the story that are easy to miss.

Tina Brown, the editor of The Daily Beast, joins NPR's David Greene to help us do just that, as part of a recurring series Morning Edition calls Word of Mouth. This month, it's stories of global conflict and the media that — for good and for ill — cover those stories.

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Kitchen Window
10:03 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Helping Pasta Salad Dress For Success

Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 1:08 pm

So many people have the wrong idea about pasta salad — that staple of the summertime picnic season. It's a complete dish (often with starch, vegetable and protein all together), it's happy to hang out in your basket for several leisurely hours without complaint and it doesn't require much more than a fork to enjoy al fresco. Far too often, though, it's just done wrong.

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The Salt
4:10 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Paula Deen's Sons Speak Up, But Her Empire Further Crumbles

Carlo Allegri AP

It's been a downward spiral for Paula Deen since news of her deposition testimony as part of a racial discrimination suit went public last week.

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Movies
4:05 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

A Revealing '60s 'Portrait,' Opening Eyes In Theaters Again

Jason Holliday, born Aaron Payne, is demanding audiences' attention again in a new theatrical release of Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason, restored by Milestone Film and the Academy Film Archive.
Milestone Film

He's got a round, affable face and large, black, hipster glasses. He's smartly dressed in a blazer and button-up shirt. He looks straight into the camera, talking, singing, smoking and drinking — just him, for upward of 90 minutes.

"It only hurts when you think of it," he says, his normally jaunty voice wobbling on the edge of a break. "And if you're real, you think of it a long, long time, that's for sure. Those are the dues."

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Television
12:29 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

'Inside Amy Schumer': It's Not Just Sex Stuff

Amy Schumer isn't afraid to talk sexting, dirty talk or even the fine line between rape and deeply troubling sex in her comedy.
Peter Yang Comedy Central

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 12:35 pm

One of Amy Schumer's comedy routines begins with the declaration, "I'm a little sluttier than the average bear. I really am."

Degrees of sluttiness may be hard to define, but Schumer does talk frankly about many subjects — including sex — that can be uncomfortable for people, both in her stand-up act and on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, which was recently renewed for a second season.

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Movie Reviews
12:19 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

'The Bling Ring': Celebrity Culture And Its Little Monsters

In Sofia Coppola's film The Bling Ring, about the excesses of Los Angeles materialism, Emma Watson plays narcissistic party girl Nicki.
Merrick Morton A24

We live in a world filled with crimes, but most of them don't have much to tell us. They're cases of mere stupidity, cruelty or greed. But every now and then one comes along that invites larger thoughts about the culture.

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Monkey See
6:52 am
Tue June 25, 2013

The Seven Ways To Write About Television

iStockphoto.com

Perhaps it's the combination of Sunday night's Mad Men finale and the flurry of Sopranos discussion that followed the death of James Gandolfini, but it's hard not to be struck by the explosion of writing about television that's occurred in the last 15 years or so, facilitated (of course) by the ability to go from rolling credits to publication in an hour (if necessary). After any major episode, there will be a flurry of commentary, and even after minor episodes of minor shows, there are write-ups here and there.

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The Two-Way
5:26 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Book News: Author Of Controversial 'Seduction Guide' Apologizes

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Women Find More Than They Bargained For In 'The Property'

Israeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan's deceptively clear and simple line work — she can conjure a face in two dots and a single, expressive pen stroke — is a deliberate artistic choice. Narratively, Modan's work (including the acclaimed Exit Wounds and her Jamilti and Other Stories) lives in the realm of the indistinct, the undefined and the hotly disputed. In her books, conflicts between family members, lovers and nations all occur in the context of Jewish cultural history.

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Critics' Lists: Summer 2013
5:03 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Making Art From Art: 5 Nonfiction Reads For Summer

Andrew Bannecker

An elaborate cake exactingly modeled from the work of a Dutch minimalist painter. A piece of literary criticism as interesting and expansive as its subject. A photograph of an eerie, antlered hat sculpted from feathers and tulle. Art criticism, written with a novelist's eye. Here are five books that traverse genre and medium, while keeping the same aim: to analyze, celebrate and re-imagine beautiful works of art.

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Code Switch
2:46 am
Tue June 25, 2013

As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White

At a San Jose, Calif. library, a young reader browses a shelf of books featuring a variety of main characters: ducks, hens, white kids, black kids. Libraries help drive demand for children's books with nonwhite characters, but book publishers say there aren't enough libraries to make those books best-sellers.
San Jose Library Flickr

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 9:14 am

When it comes to diversity, children's books are sorely lacking; instead of presenting a representative range of faces, they're overwhelmingly white. How bad is the disconnect?

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