Arts

Author Interviews
10:21 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Baratunde Thurston Explains 'How To Be Black'

Baratunde Thurston is an American comedian and the digital director of The Onion. He co-founded the black political blog Jack & Jill Politics. He is also a prolific tweeter.
Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 10:55 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 1, 2012. How to Be Black will be released in paperback on Oct. 30.

It's no coincidence that Baratunde Thurston's new memoir and satirical self-help book How to Be Black was slated for release on the first day of Black History Month.

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Monkey See
9:55 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Does The Hallmark Channel Have Basic Cable's Most Efficiently Defined Brand?

Kellie Martin and Ethan Erickson in I Married Who?
Alexx Henry Hallmark Channel

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:50 pm

You know Hallmark cards, of course. "When you care enough to send the very best." They made themselves The Company That Makes Greeting Cards, Whether You Like It Or Not, and that brand is made of iron.

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Monkey See
8:58 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Nature Of Suspense And Our Love Of Cover Songs

NPR

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:53 pm

  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

This week, we're visited by the marvelous Barrie Hardymon for a show about the nature of suspense — brought on by Stephen's and my enthusiasm for the new Ben Affleck film Argo -- and about cover songs. We play a lot of music, including covers we love and the raw materials to put together covers that don't exist except in our dreams.

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Movie Reviews
8:51 am
Fri October 19, 2012

'The Sessions': Sex, Comedy And Something More

Living most of his life in an iron lung forces Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) to see the world from a different point of view.
Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 8:53 pm

In 1983, Berkeley poet and journalist Mark O'Brien wrote an article about sexual surrogates — women and men trained to help people with disabilities learn to use their bodies to give themselves and others erotic pleasure.

For O'Brien, the subject wasn't academic. After a bout of childhood polio, he had spent much of his life in an iron lung. He could talk, and tap out words on a typewriter holding a stick in his mouth. He could feel things below the neck. But he couldn't move his muscles.

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Monkey See
7:48 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Entirely Real Photos: What's It Like At A Rockettes Rehearsal?

Linda Haberman (L), Director and Choreographer of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular directs The Rockettes at the 2012 Radio City Christmas Spectacular Rehearsals this week in New York.
Rob Kim Getty Images

I have no particular wisdom about this photo; I just think it's interesting to see that the Rockettes are never not regimented. I thought maybe you'd be allowed to wear your own dance clothes, but it makes sense that they'd want to see the effect of everyone looking the same, even in practice. These women work hard.

Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
7:03 am
Fri October 19, 2012

NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Fiction, Week Of October 18, 2012

Sherman Alexie's Blasphemy, a collection of stories about Native American life, debuts at No. 15.

Monkey See
6:44 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Morning Shots: 'Girls,' Jerks, 'Sugar Dome,' And Messing With Classics

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:51 pm

I continue to be utterly fascinated by Ta-Nehisi Coates and his quest to learn French. "I now understand why two-year-olds are so frustrated," and other insights. [The Atlantic]

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Movie Reviews
3:14 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Aging Gracefully By Sticking 'All Together'

Five friends decide to move in together as an alternative to retirement-home living in the French-language dramedy All Together.
Huma Rosentalski Kino Lorber

Like the characters in this year's indie feel-good The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — British pensioners who decide to spend their autumn years living communally and on the cheap in India — the French seniors of the charming yet melancholy All Together face aging in a time of banking crises and austerity measures.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

'Nobody Walks' The Straight And Narrow Path

A married Hollywood sound man (John Krasinski) falls for his collaborator and house guest (Olivia Thirlby) in Nobody Walks, a messily mortifying study of emotional impulse.
Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 6:50 am

October is normally a time for watching movies through your fingers, knowing something grim is about to happen. Ry Russo-Young's new film, Nobody Walks, is no exception — except that at a horror movie, you're guarding against images that are sure to be terrifying. In this intimate, quietly compelling indie drama, they're mortifying.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Tyler Perry Takes A Shot At Thriller Territory

Cross, Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) and Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) race against the clock to find the sociopathic assassin.
Sidney Baldwin Summit Entertainment

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 10:17 am

A vigilante with the heart of a social worker, the protagonist of Alex Cross wants to nurture and uplift — but also to make the sort of moves that delight a multiplex crowd.

He is, in short, Tyler Perry's alter ego.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Nothing 'Zero' About This Kung Fu Hero

Sammo Hung, the film's fight choreographer, has worked with kung fu artists like Jackie Chan and John Woo.
Okazaki Hirotake Variance Films

With its frisky camerawork, eclectic scenario and playful stylization, the Chinese period action romp Tai Chi Zero is an impressive package. That there's not much inside the glittery wrapping is just a minor drawback.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

In 'Bestiare,' A Glimpse Into The Nature Of Looking

Cote's placid pacing invites consideration of the monotony and simplicity that marks the lives of both the animals and the humans in the park.
KimStim Inc.

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 3:25 pm

It's tempting to call Denis Cote's Bestiaire "contemplative." Its unscored 72 minutes of footage — of animals, caretakers and patrons at Quebec's Parc Safari — certainly leave a lot of room for thought.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Life, And Something Like Love, In An Iron Lung

Mark (John Hawkes), a disabled man who has spent most of his life in an iron lung, decides to lose his virginity to a sex surrogate, Cheryl (Helen Hunt).
Fox Searchlight

Disability biopics, especially the kind that bring audiences to their feet at Sundance, rarely have anywhere to carry us but on a linear journey from pity via empathy to tearful uplift.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Some Things Are Better Left Un-'Said'

Best friends Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) and Dee Dee (Anne Heche) are New Yorkers with various issues surrounding sex and men.
Phase 4 Films

The road to hell is paved not just with good intentions, but with movies that attempt to capture the way women really talk. Bodacious confessions about illicit nights spent in all manner of threesomes; loud coffee-shop discussions about yeast infections; repeated fretting about that possible Mr. Right who, for some reason, just hasn't gotten around to calling — all of these things figure heavily in the generally preposterous girl talk that makes up That's What She Said. Elvis Costello sure had it right: There are some things you can't cover up with lipstick and powder.

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Book Reviews
12:59 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

'Master' Jefferson: Defender Of Liberty, Then Slavery

Hulton Archive Getty Images

His public words have inspired millions, but for scholars, his private words and deeds generate confusion, discomfort, apologetic excuses. When the young Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," there's compelling evidence to indicate that he indeed meant all men, not just white guys.

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Author Interviews
12:56 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

In Constant Digital Contact, We Feel 'Alone Together'

Courtesy of Basic Books

As soon as Sherry Turkle arrived at the studio for her Fresh Air interview, she realized she'd forgotten her phone. "I realized I'd left it behind, and I felt a moment of Oh my god ... and I felt it kind of in the pit of my stomach," she tells Terry Gross. That feeling of emotional dependence on digital devices is the focus of Turkle's research. Her book, Alone Together, explores how new technology is changing the way we communicate with one another.

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Monkey See
12:16 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

MTV's 'Underemployed': Heavy On Stereotypes, Still Light On Realistic Apartments

Diego Boneta, Sarah Habel, Michelle Ang, Inbar Lavi and Jared Kusnitz of MTV's Underemployed.
MTV

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:54 pm

"It was the best of times, it was the best of times," riffs aspiring writer Sophia in the opening of MTV's new dramedy, Underemployed, as she taps away on her laptop, narrating the lives of her recent-grad friends a la Carrie Bradshaw. It's the first cliché in a series full of them. It's also a sign of the ongoing fascination with the lives of twentysomethings trying and failing to do big things in big cities during a big recession. (Take it from me — it's not that great.)

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Wisdom Watch
9:06 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Legs Lost, But Still Climbing High

Spencer West at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Courtesy of Free the Children

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 6:21 am

A lot of people would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. At a little over 19,000 feet above sea level, it is Africa's highest peak. Many want to do it to raise money for a cause or just to prove to themselves or the world that they can. And some people, like Spencer West, actually make it to the summit.

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Around the Nation
9:06 am
Thu October 18, 2012

50 Years Later, Ole Miss Crowns Homecoming History

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 11:25 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we want to tell you about history that was just made on a campus that is full of history, some of it difficult. Just a few days ago, a young woman was crowned homecoming queen at her university. And you might think, well, that's nice, but that happens all the time.

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Monkey See
6:48 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Morning Shots: George Takei, 'Moby-Dick,' And Magical Realism In Film

iStockphoto.com

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]

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Assaying The Legacy Of 'The Big Screen'

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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.

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Monkey See
3:03 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Culture Yourself: October 17, 2012

iStockphoto.com

Each afternoon, we encourage you to put your feet up, relax, and check out some of the cultural coverage that might have slipped by during the day.

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Books
2:29 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Thousands Line Up For Rare Rowling Appearance

J.K. Rowling promotes her new novel, The Casual Vacancy, at Lincoln Center in New York. It was her only U.S. appearance.
Dan Hallman AP

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 5:09 pm

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.

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Monkey See
2:13 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Sometimes A Friend Is Just A Cigar: Why Not Everybody Needs To Kiss At The End

David Duchovny, left, and Gillian Anderson in the film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Diyah Pera AP

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:51 pm

This week at Monkey See, we're looking at friendship in pop culture.

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Television
1:34 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Jessica Lange, Back In Black For 'Horror Story'

Jessica Lange plays Sister Jude, a stern nun running an insane asylum, in the second season of American Horror Story.
FX

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 5:09 pm

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.

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Author Interviews
12:57 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

'Gershwins And Me' Tells The Stories Behind 12 Songs

Michael Feinstein (right) worked for six years as Ira Gershwin's cataloger and archivist.
Simon & Schuster

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 2:49 pm

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.

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Monkey See
9:42 am
Wed October 17, 2012

See A Clip From The Outstanding 'Brooklyn Castle,' A Film About Chess And Life

The I.S. 318 chess team, featured in Brooklyn Castle.
BrooklynCastle.com

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.)

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Monkey See
7:44 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Entirely Real Photos: It Is Possible That Jennifer Lopez Needs Less Wind Machine

Jennifer Lopez performs in Paris on Tuesday night.
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

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.

Three Books...
7:03 am
Wed October 17, 2012

00110011: Three Books About The Data Around You

iStockphoto.com

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.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Collaboration Leaves Couple 'Drawn Together'

Liveright

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.

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