Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 8:49 am
I don't know when we decided to start celebrating the 161st anniversaries of things, but it's the 161st anniversary of the publication of Moby-Dick, and there's a Google Doodle to celebrate. [The Telegraph]
Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:56 am
"The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie," admits Binx Bolling, the hero of Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer. It's the same for a lot of us — cinema affects us in ways we don't always understand, and even the worst films appeal to our nostalgia and sense memories in manners that defy the normal rules of taste and logic. (Currently, on my DVR: La Dolce Vita, a classic I know I should see at some point, and Gymkata, a truly terrible 1985 martial-arts flick I've watched a dozen times.
While much of America was watching the second presidential debate, about 2,000 people — many of them between the ages of 20 and 40 — were doing something very different. They had gotten a rare and prized ticket to the only U.S. appearance by J.K Rowling, as she promotes her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.
The crowd was huge but happy — double the number originally planned, forcing the organizers to change venues. Attendees got a ticket to the Lincoln Center event and a copy of the book, which Rowling would later sign.
To speak with Ryan Murphy about his show American Horror Story is to hear this declaration repeatedly: "She classes up the joint."
Murphy is referring to his star, Jessica Lange, who recently won an Emmy for her role in the show's first season. If you've been a fan of Lange's film career, from Tootsie to Frances to Blue Sky, you might wonder why this treasure of the American theater, this two-time Oscar winner, is slumming in a lurid cable TV horror show.
Long before singer and pianist Michael Feinstein became famous in his own right, he had the privilege of working closely with legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin, as his archivist and cataloger. In his new book, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, Feinstein writes firsthand about the musical world of the American composers and brothers, George and Ira Gershwin.
Brooklyn Castle, which I originally saw at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, is one of my favorite movies of the year. And starting this week, it's coming to theaters in select cities. (See a list of theaters here.)
I'm sure Jennifer Lopez knows exactly how much wind is flattering, far more than I do. I'm sure she has a Flattering Wind consultant, and possibly even a Flattering Wind Consultant Handler. ("Assistant To The Flattering Wind Consultant Handler: Coco Maribou. Assistant to Ms. Maribou...")
But honestly, I might have gone with 20 percent less gale force here.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:53 am
Everywhere you go, you are data. You purchase an apple and suddenly ones and zeros are racing through the clickstream like they're wearing superhero capes. Someone, somewhere now knows more about when people eat apples, the likelihood that you will purchase one again, how they correlate to your longevity, your salary, your risk of disease. You shape the universe as you go.
What happens to underground artists after they step, blinking, into the harsh, flat light of the upper world? If they are Robert and Aline Crumb, not a whole hell of a lot — at least, not in their approach to their art. As amply demonstrated in Drawn Together, which collects comics the two cartoonists have created together since the late '70s, their specific subjects may change, but how they go about depicting those subjects — their shared impulse for autobiographical, self-deprecating logorrhea — remains constant.
Dellarobia Turnbow, the smart-mouthed heroine of Barbara Kingsolver'sFlight Behavior, is frustrated by her marriage to Cub, the boy who got her pregnant in high school, and by the grinding privation of life on her in-laws' failing farm. Kingsolver mixes a story of personal awakening with themes of environmental stewardship and climate change as a freak natural phenomenon begins to transform Dellarobia's life. This exclusive excerpt exhibits one of the book's pleasures — Kingsolver's closely observed depictions of rural life — as it introduces the main characters.
From the first five minutes of Vegas, there's no mistaking its classic Western heritage — they even have Stetson-wearing heroes wrangling a herd of cattle on horseback.
The year is 1960, and nail-tough rancher Ralph Lamb has been talked into serving as the top cop in Las Vegas. Lamb's only problem: He's taking over just as the mob is trying to turn Vegas from a sleepy ranch town into the world's grown-up playground.
In Vegas, the white hats just want to run their ranches, while the black hats fight over money, gambling and power.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 4:27 am
My first official kitchen chore, at the ripe age of 6, was to help Mom with the dal. It is one of the first dishes I learned to cook from her, and I still consider her the ultimate dal expert. Dal is sort of an umbrella term under which my family (and, I bet, most Indians) lump pulses and legumes such as lentils, beans and dried peas.
(Reading) Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
The famous opening line of Daphne du Maurier novel "Rebecca," which is full of lies and mysteries and deaths. Well, now a story is emerging full of lies and mysteries and a supposed death, all wrapped around a troubled plan to bring a musical version of "Rebecca" to Broadway. Federal prosecutors have now charged a Long Island stockbroker, Mark Hotton, with fraud for allegedly creating sham investors in the production, and bilking the show's producers out of $60,000.
Hilary Mantel, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, poses with her prize shortly after the award ceremony in London Tuesday. Mantel, won the 50,000 British pounds (approximately $80,000) prize with her book <em>Bring up the Bodies</em>.
Holy Motors, the first full-length feature in 10 years from singular French filmmaker Leos Carax, is very much a love letter to movies. But this isn't a spot-the-references extravaganza; the more movies you've seen in your lifetime, the less sense Holy Motors is likely to make.
Writer and illustrator Lane Smith teamed up with author Jon Scieszka on the books <em>The Stinky Cheese Man</em> and <em>The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.</em>
Credit Roaring Brook Press
In <em>Abe Lincoln's Dream,</em> the 16th president checks in on the U.S. to see how the nation is doing after the Civil War. A little girl who gets lost on a White House tour reassures the troubled ghost that the country is doing OK.
With the country mired in a civil war, Abraham Lincoln had a lot on his mind, so it's not surprising that the 16th president experienced vivid, troubling dreams.
"He was haunted by his dreams," says author and illustrator Lane Smith. In one dream, Lincoln found himself aboard an indescribable vessel moving toward an indistinct shore, Smith tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "He had these dreams apparently several times before momentous events of the Civil War, and in fact he had it the night before he was assassinated."
Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 3:09 pm
We Killed: The Rise Of Women In American Comedy is a sprawling oral history that grew out of a Marie Claire piece. It has the loose structure of most similar books (of which there are more and more), though the introduction unfortunately ties it to the tired "women aren't funny" assertions that apparently we're not through talking about yet.
The baristas at Chinatown Coffee in Washington, D.C., were suspicious of the dark color of the beans, but pleased with the taste.
Credit Claire O'Neill / NPR
Civet feces are collected and cleaned for the beans, which are naturally fermented during digestion.
Credit AFP / AFP/Getty Images
At a coffee shop in Indonesia, one cup of kopi luwak can go for around $9 U.S.
Credit ADEK BERRY / AFP/Getty Images
In captivity, civets don't choose what they eat. "It's unripe and its robusto," says coffee connoisseur Oliver Strand, dismissing it: "That's of zero interest." Robusto coffee, he explains, is indigenous to Africa, and not what the animal would eat in the wild.
Credit Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP/Getty Images
A coffee "bean" is actually the seed of a cherry-sized fruit that grows on the coffee plant. Civets eat the whole fruit. The seed is separated from the pulp in the digestive process.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
In the wild, the civet "cat" is naturally drawn to the best, ripe fruits on the coffee plant; that's why, effectively, they would produce the best beans, in small batches.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Capitalizing on the fact that civet coffee can fetch a pretty penny, small producers have started "farming" it. That is, keeping civets in captivity and feeding them coffee fruits once a day.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Andrew Shields, a barista at Chinatown Coffee, makes a custom cup of civet coffee, following the instructions to use a French press.
Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 2:03 pm
I can't remember when I first heard about what I affectionately refer to as "cat poop coffee." But I do remember not believing it was real. I'm still having a hard time, to be honest.
But cat poop coffee — that is, civet coffee (or "kopi luwak," as pronounced in Indonesian) — is real, and really expensive. Like $60 for 4 ounces of beans — or in some boutique cafes, at least $10 a cup. That's a bargain compared to what it costs for elephant poop coffee; but I digress.
You might think that Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop — two of the culinary talents behind the public television shows America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country — would have their cooking techniques pretty much figured out. Think again.
For the new Cook's illustrated book The Science of Good Cooking, Bishop and Lancaster tested principles they assumed were true — and as Bishop tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Things that we thought were actually accurate turned out to be, perhaps, more complex."
Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks, two black men who had auditioned for The Bachelor, who claimed that the show discriminates against people of color both in choosing the primary bachelor/ette and in choosing the people he or she will have to choose from.
Louise Erdrich's debut novel, <em>Love Medicine</em>, won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. Her other books include <em>The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse</em> and <em>The Plague of D</em>oves<em>.</em>
I've devoted many hours in my life to reading, and among these hours many of them belong to the creations of novelist Louise Erdrich. In more than a dozen books of fiction — mostly novel length — that make up a large part of her already large body of work, Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House. It's her latest novel, and, I would argue, her best so far.
In late summer 2010, at the end of a morning briefing, one of President Obama's security advisers said, "Mr. President, Leon and the guys at Langley think they may have come up with something." The adviser was referring to then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, and to a possible lead on the country's most wanted terrorist: Osama bin Laden.
It's not easy for John Hawkes to watch clips of himself in his new movie, The Sessions. He plays a man named Mark O'Brien, based on a real writer and poet, who spends most of his time in an iron lung as a result of childhood polio; that meant the role was hard on Hawkes' body. As he tells Melissa Block on All Things Considered, "It was a physically painful role to play." Not only did it require him to act primarily from a horizontal position, but it called for him to create the illusion of a curved spine.
Jerusalem is known for its bitter politics, a divided city where decades of religious and political strife have torn away shared spaces. But as British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi tells NPR's Melissa Block, if there's one place in which Jerusalemites of all stripes still stand united, it's in their love of food.
Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 1:13 pm
I didn't actually know the name "Wayne White" when I went to see the documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing at Silverdocs this summer. But as it turns out, I've certainly seen his work, and even if, like me, you're not visual-arts-oriented enough to know his marvelous word paintings, you may have, too.