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Talking Heads

Sep 15, 2017

TV pundits in absurdly large suits star in this music game. We rewrote Talking Heads songs to be about the hosts, pundits, and game show sidekicks who make their living as talking heads.

Heard On Julia Stiles: Antihero Of The 'Riviera'

Shocking Surprise

Sep 15, 2017

This game has a major twist ending: Jonathan's been dead this whole time and Ophira's his father! In this game, we collected movies with surprise endings and gave them a twist of our own by adding one letter to their titles.

Heard On Julia Stiles: Antihero Of The 'Riviera'

The Sounds Of Failure

Sep 15, 2017

In this round, our contestants succeed by failing as they're quizzed on the sounds you hear when you lose or die in various games.

Heard On Julia Stiles: Antihero Of The 'Riviera'

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Instagram Of Dorian Gray

Sep 15, 2017

What would've happened if Dr. Jekyll used Grindr and wondered why Mr. Hyde was always zero feet away? In this game, we've solved the core plot issues in classic works of fiction using modern solutions.

Heard On Julia Stiles: Antihero Of The 'Riviera'

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Future Consequences.

About Paul Knoepfler's TED Talk

New gene editing tools hold a great deal of promise, but biologist Paul Knoepfler says we should be cautious. He warns altering DNA can have dire consequences, including a new form of eugenics.

About Paul Knoepfler

If you've never seen the Property Brothers on television, here's how their show works: Their names are Drew and Jonathan Scott, and they're twins. (Of course they're identical; like television cares about fraternal twins. Fraternal twins might as well be on the radio!) They show prospective housebuyers — invariably a romantic couple — some houses, and the couple picks one.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Future Consequences.

About Juan Enriquez's TED Talk

From genetically modified animals and crops, we can already manipulate DNA. But futurist Juan Enriquez argues soon we can take full control of human evolution to create a better life for all of us.

About Juan Enriquez

In 'The Pictures,' The Story Slips Out Of Focus

Sep 15, 2017

Bethanne Patrick is a freelance writer and critic who tweets @TheBookMaven.

American authors Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George have made careers penning mysteries set across the pond; now English writer Guy Bolton is attempting to build a career of his own with a series set in Hollywood's golden age. The Pictures, his first novel featuring LAPD detective Jonathan Craine, takes place in 1939 — just as MGM is getting ready to release The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

David Simon and George Pelecanos made The Wire and Treme together, among other shows, and now they've teamed up to create The Deuce, a new HBO drama about prostitution and the rise of the porn industry in New York's Times Square. Set in 1971, when prostitution took place out in the open on Times Square's grubby streets, the show stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Franco (as twins!) and a huge cast of character actors who help form an ambitious web of stories. It's a lot to take in, and the first eight-episode season — which premiered Sept.

Don't read this.

I'm serious.

Not a single person says "shhh!" during Frederick Wiseman's three-hour-plus tour of New York libraries. In fact, Ex Libris: New York Public Library immediately introduces garrulous author, scientist, and atheist Richard Dawkins, and there are a half-dozen other talky authors waiting in the wings. In this documentary, chatter among the stacks is encouraged.

Shh. Listen! Hear that faint scampering sound outside your window? The pitter-patter of tiny paws and huge, undiscerning appetites? The screech of a potential disease-carrier? Do you live in a city? It's probably a rat. But try to resist the urge to freak out, fellow citizen — at least until you watch the superb new documentary Rat Film, and can determine for yourself who between us is the true parasite of society.

It's an oft-told tale, in Hollywood: A good man wracked by his envy of others he deems more successful than he at scoring the usual American-Dream jackpots of money, status, and fame. He eats himself alive over this at self-defeating length that's both funny and sad. At the climax other, mostly female, not-rich salts of the earth swoop in to persuade him that, OMG, it's a wonderful life just as it is.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

People who write jokes on a freelance basis are losing a precious customer - "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update." Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Late-night comedy shows burn through a lot of material.

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Ken Burns became a star on PBS a generation ago by telling the story of the Civil War in a huge — and hugely popular — documentary series. Since then, he and his collaborators have done invaluable work, including a lengthy and superb examination of World War II.

Amal El-Mohtar is the Hugo Award-winning author of The Honey Month and the editor of Goblin Fruit, an online poetry magazine.

"Humans cannot live without stories," writes Stephen Greenblatt in his new book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve. "We surround ourselves with them; we make them up in our sleep; we tell them to our children; we pay to have them told to us." There's a reason storytelling has endured as a medium — the best stories are never just that; they connect us to something deeper, they explain our most deeply held beliefs. As Joan Didion once wrote, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live."

Attica Locke's new novel Bluebird, Bluebird unfolds in rural East Texas along a stretch of U.S. highway 59. She describes it as "a thread on the map that ties together small towns like knots on a string."

During the Great Migration — the period during the 20th century when millions of African-Americans left the Southern U.S. — highway 59 was the road north: "That was the road to get out of Texas," Locke says.

The film First They Killed My Father begins in 1975 Cambodia, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The hard-line communist regime aimed to deport an entire nation into the countryside and form an agrarian utopia — but their experiment failed. People were forced to work, and they were also tortured, starved and executed. In the end, around a quarter of the country's population — roughly 2 million people — died.

The Man Booker Prize rolled out its 2017 shortlist on Wednesday, delivering a list of six nominees showcasing a hefty dose of literary heavyweights and a pair of newcomers. Of the six novels on the list, just one will go on to win this year's prestigious literary prize at gala ceremony next month in London.

'World Without Mind' Is An Urgent, Personal Polemic

Sep 13, 2017

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

Nicole Krauss' fourth novel, a cerebral, dual-stranded tale of disillusionment and spiritual quest, proves heavy going for its characters — and its readers. Her two protagonists, a powerful, 68-year-old Manhattan attorney and philanthropist named Jules Epstein, and a celebrated novelist on the cusp of 40 named Nicole, have come to question the aridity of their lives. Both believe they'll find relief and transformation in Israel, a land of "never-ending argument" that also offers them abundant time and light in which to examine things more deeply.

Ever since the early days of Pop Culture Happy Hour, we've set aside the occasional block of time to champion a few of our favorite entertainers in a segment we call People We're Pulling For. We keep the criteria pretty loose: They can be little-known up-and-comers, major stars at a crossroads, or anything in between. The important thing is that we're rooting for them, and we think others ought to root for them, too.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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About halfway through Claire Messud's new novel The Burning Girl, our narrator, a 12-year-old girl named Julia, makes this pronouncement:

Sometimes I felt that growing up and being a girl was about learning to be afraid. Not paranoid, exactly, but always alert and aware, like checking out the exits in the movie theater or the fire escape in a hotel. You came to know, in a way you hadn't as a kid, that the body you inhabited was vulnerable, imperfectly fortified.

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