In the spring of 1963, as the U.S. was mired in conflicts with Vietnam and Cuba and the Soviet Union, President John F. Kennedy called his old friend David Hackett to express his frustration at the U.S. men's ice hockey team — and their miserable record overseas.
JFK: Dave, I noticed that in the paper this morning that the Swedish team beat the American hockey team 17-2. Hackett: Yeah, I saw that. JFK: Christ! Who are we sending over there? Girls?
There weren't a whole lot of upset winners at last Sunday's Emmy Awards, but one of the few was Homeland star Damian Lewis, who beat out, among others, Mad Men's Jon Hamm and three-time winner Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad to take home the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Lewis' co-star, Claire Danes, won for her lead performance as well, and the show ended a four-year Mad Men streak when it was named Outstanding Drama Series.
Symphony orchestras have seen a lot of labor disputes recently due to financial troubles. Musicians are on strike in Chicago. In Atlanta, they've been locked out. Contracts for both the Minneapolis Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra expire Sunday with no immediate sign of settlements. Then there's the Dayton Philharmonic. As Emily McCord of member station WYSO reports, it seems to have solved its budget woes by merging with the city's opera and ballet.
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.
Most people who read a lot have gotten used to reading on a screen, whether it's a laptop, a tablet or an e-reader. Some say they prefer it to the experience of reading a heavy, awkward print version of the book. But every now and then, a book comes along that just seems to insist on being physical — something about it simply can't be transferred to the screen.
Published mainly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales — also the preferred outlet for his most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian — the serial adventures of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane character provided an early model for the "sword and sorcery" subgenre, that crude yet irresistible fusion of the superpowerful and the supernatural.
One of the better jokes in Hotel Transylvania comes when Dracula (Adam Sandler) happens to see a clip of one of the Twilight movies. As Edward sparkles in the sunlight, Drac is even more offended at this bastardized representation of his kind than he is by the people constantly imitating his Transylvanian accent by appending the nonsense words "Bluh, bluh bluh!" to the end of any sentence.
Some men, it's said, think about only one thing. Hong Kong movie producer To Wai-Cheung, for example, is absolutely obsessive about film. Yet when he discusses it, he always seems to be talking about something else that's often on men's minds.
To (Chapman To) is the protagonist of Vulgaria, a Hong Kong movie-biz satire and sex comedy. Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung, the film boasts the spontaneity of a French New Wave romp, while including raunchy gags worthy of The Hangover and Clerks II.
When it's done right, there's nothing so miraculous as the sound of human voices blending into a creamy swirl of color, with neither the help nor the distraction of musical accompaniment. Pitch Perfect banks on that magic — the purely human wizardry of a cappella singing — though it also attempts to be several other things: a mild gross-out comedy, a paean to the awkward early stages of new love, a Mean Girls-style riff on campus hierarchies. That may be too much for one modest comedy to carry, but one thing's for sure: Pitch Perfect doesn't skimp on the singing.
The main problem with time-travel movies is the many black holes that the plot can stumble into; for a certain kind of viewer, they can be more than a little distracting. While the story presses forward, we're stuck wondering, for instance, how a character can safely hang out with his future self in the same time period — an anomaly that, despite Spock's shenanigans in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, aficionados of Doctor Who know is a Very Bad Thing.
I adore time-travel pictures like Looper no matter how idiotic, especially when they feature a Love That Transcends Time. I love Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, The Time Traveler's Wife, even The Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in different years sending letters through a magic mailbox. So terrible. So good. See, everyone wants to correct mistakes in hindsight, and it's the one thing we cannot do. Except vicariously, in movies.
One night in 1984, British scientist Frances Ashcroft was studying electricity in the body and discovered the protein that causes neonatal diabetes. She says she felt so "over the moon" that she couldn't sleep.
By the next morning, she says, she thought it was a mistake.
But luckily, that feeling was wrong, and Ashcroft's revelation led to a medical breakthrough decades later, which now enables people born with diabetes to take pills instead of injecting insulin.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we're talking with Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. We'll ask the flying squirrel how it feels in that white hot spotlight and what kind of sacrifices she made to get there.
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town! And Mark Helprin's new near-epic novel makes it all the more marvelous. It's got great polarized motifs — war and peace, heroism and cowardice, crime and civility, pleasure and business, love and hate, bias and acceptance — which the gifted novelist weaves into a grand, old-fashioned romance, a New York love story that begins with a Hollywoodish meet-cute on the Staten Island Ferry.
The Avengers has brought in more money than any other movie this year — more than $600 million domestically. And it's only going to make more, especially with the DVD release this week.
The Avengers features characters from Marvel Comics, but the No. 2 movie of the year was based on a character from rival DC Comics — Batman. It's just the latest skirmish in a long, long, long-running battle between Marvel fans and DC fans.
The extended interview above includes parts one and two of the Morning Edition interview, plus additional material.
J.K. Rowling has a new novel. She's moved away from Harry Potter, the boy wizard whose stories prompted millions of kids to obsess over books big enough to serve as doorstops. Having concluded that series, she's written a novel for grown-ups called The Casual Vacancy, a story of troubled teenagers and their even more troubled parents.
After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer was so angry at banks, he says, he decided to write about the people who rob them — in the form of fiction, since he's not an economist.
"I thought it would be healthy to live vicariously through a bank robber at that moment that bankers were ruining the world," Moehringer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
In his first historical novel, Sutton, Moehringer writes from the point of view of Willie Sutton, whom he calls the "greatest American bank robber."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. On television and in movies, the emergency rooms of big city hospitals are places of high drama, with doctors working furiously to save gunshot victims, those hurt in car accidents and people who are suffering a medical crisis, like a heart attack.
Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 9:49 am
Among the many remedies we have flung at our foundering inner-city schools is a force we have reckoned without: Maggie Gyllenhaal, raising hell in the feistily titled Won't Back Down as a harried single mother eking out a living selling cars in a proletarian city, nobly represented under lowering skies by Pittsburgh.
It all started several months ago, when I was fishing around for something not-too-unhealthy for lunch. Spring was over — the once-tender lettuces now milky-hearted and stiff-leaved — and I was bored with salad. I love sandwiches, but every time I gorged on bread I stepped a little heavier onto the scale. "If you're going to eat constantly," I said to myself, knowing that I would, "you simply can't afford to pack on that many carbs at a time."
Stephen Marche's latest book is How Shakespeare Changed Everything.
Just as the fanciest chefs will happily eat simple cheese and toast so long as it's prepared properly, literary writers will happily read genre fiction, as long as it's prepared properly. And the best preparer of hard-boiled crime fiction, or at least my favorite, was Jim Thompson. Though he was the pulpiest of pulp writers, he was also the densest and most intense and most complicated. His cheese on toast is like melted Gruyere over crusty fresh baguette.