Something funny has happened to the familiar commencement address in the past 10 years. That something is YouTube. Steve Jobs' 2005 address at Stanford, to take just one example, has been viewed upwards of 20 million times.
How would a man in a suit of armor go to the bathroom? That inquiry into medieval sanitation is just one of many unlikely topics that have come up around Sarah Albee's dinner table. Albee, a children's book author, has been trying to get middle schoolers interested in history. Her strategy is to look at it through the lens of something that gets kids' attention, namely: things that are gross.
As part of a series called "My Big Break,"All Things Consideredis collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.
It all started with a dead-end job at a convenience store in Pittsburgh. Terry Boring says he had the worst job there: the assistant manager.
"You get none of the respect of the store manager and you get all of the terrible hours that they can't get anyone else to work," he says.
In 2008, Nathan Deuel and his wife packed up their things and moved to Saudi Arabia. That country, famous for being largely closed to Westerners, was newly open to a handful of journalists. The couple moved to Riyadh. A year later, in 2009, their daughter was born.
Francine Prose's new novel "Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932" was inspired by a picture taken by the famous Hungarian photographer Brassai. It shows a lesbian couple at a club in Paris before World War II. One of the women in the photo is dressed in a tuxedo. Her hair is short and slicked back like a man. She was Violette Morris, an athlete and racecar driver whose career was cut short because she was a cross-dresser.
Few people know the ins and outs of power politics in the nation's capital better than Richard A. Clarke. He served three presidents and as national coordinator for security and counterterrorism, he was instrumental in developing the nation's armed drone program.
The lack of diversity in children's literature is nothing new β it's an issue that's been roiling the book world for years. Just in the past few weeks, it's come to a head with the We Need Diverse Books campaign on Twitter and Tumblr. Everyone agrees: all kinds of kids need to be able to see themselves reflected in the books they read.
"He wasn't a seducer. He was remote. He was like a man preceded into a room by acrobats."
"Now it was like the labored conversation among guests at a late hour after there is nothing more to say, nothing but ashes in the fireplace, dishes in the sink, a chill in the room, a return to ordinary estrangement."
Millions of Americans get financial advice from pundits on talk radio and cable television.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, many of those pundits have gotten a bad name for failing to warn investors about the crash. Yet public frustration has done little to hurt the financial media industry as a whole.
In their new book, Clash of the Financial Pundits, Joshua Brown and Jeff Macke argue that financial punditry is not going anywhere; it's been around as long as there have been economies.
When Hollywood needs a big dude β a really big dude β they can call on all sorts of former athletes. Few come with the heart and humor of Terry Crews.
An 11th-round draft pick of the Rams, Crews gave up his NFL dream in 1997 to pursue a different dream in Hollywood. He thought he'd turn his love of art into a job behind the scenes in special effects. Instead, he has stolen scenes on camera β from action movies like The Expendables to TV comedies like the Golden Globe-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
By the time a bright-eyed secretary named Peggy Olson walked through the fictional doors of the Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper in 1960, one very real female pioneer was already hard at work down the street.
Like her Mad Men counterpart, the 84-year-old broadcasting legend Barbara Walters, who retired from television this week, got her start as a secretary for a Manhattan advertising agency. And though Walters' rise from the secretarial pool began much earlier and took much longer than Peggy's, it was no less dramatic.
Aaron Gwyn has written a novel about modern man at war on horses. He calls it a mideastern. "Wynne's War" is the story of a U.S. Army Ranger from Okla., Elijah Russell, whose stellar horsemanship gets him assigned to train Green Berets for a special mission in Afghanistan, a horseback raid on the Taliban in treacherous mountain territory.
Beginning this weekend, you can get a little literature with your burrito. Chipotle is putting short essays on its bags and cups - musing written by writers and thinkers that include Michael Lewis, Toni Morrison, George Saunders and Malcolm Gladwell. The series is headed by Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of the book "Eating Animals." He told Vanity Fair he'd like to create a small pocket of thoughtfulness right in the middle of the busy day.
This week, Malik Bendejelloul, who won the 2013 Oscar for his film "Searching for Sugar Man," was found dead in Stockholm. The cause of death is unknown, though his brother told the Guardian newspaper that Malik Bendejelloul took his own life after a struggle with depression.
"There is no such thing as conversation," wrote Rebecca West in her story "The Harsh Voice." "It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all." The same could be said for books, as well β even the best histories and biographies are necessarily filtered through the sensibilities of the author and reader, and some of the best literature is the result of those monologues, those stories, intersecting.
John Podesta has very possibly spent more time in the West Wing than that bust of Winston Churchill. He was chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton during the impeachment saga and is now counselor to President Obama.
It's not all that often that the New York Times goes from printing the biggest stories of the day to actually being the biggest story of the day. But that's exactly what happened this week when the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. replaced Jill Abramson as the executive editor.
The Times has dealt with big problems before. I'm thinking of course about about Jayson Blair. Seth Mnookin's book, Hard News, is the definitive account of that saga. It's the story of an old line institution that allowed a snake to slip through unnoticed.
Kara Walker was barely out of art school when she won a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, in 1997. Back then, her early work shocked audiences in part because her murals looked so charming from a distance. Black paper shadow portraits of colonial figures seemed to dance on white gallery walls; but lean in and you'd find your nose pressed up against images of slavery's horrors β mammies, masters, lynchings and sexual violence.
For those of us who have spent time arguing for increased ethnic and cultural diversity on television, the last seven days have felt like a fantasy fever dream.
This week, the big broadcast networks announced their schedules for the 2014-15 TV season during the industry's "upfront" presentations to advertisers. And there are 10 new series featuring non-white characters and/or show creators β numbers we haven't seen since the days when everybody was trying to clone The Cosby Show.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. My thanks to Celeste Headlee for sitting in for me while I was away. And at the end of the program today, actually, I will have a word about her exciting new venture.
Since 1954, the fire-breathing behemoth Godzilla has had many incarnations. In the Japanese original he was a thinly disguised symbol of the atom bomb but in later films he would fight other giant monsters and even space aliens. In 1998 there was a poorly received American remake by Roland Emmerich. Now comes another American version at a time when the restored original is also in theaters and available on DVD.
To gauge the practicality of investing the long years of speculative writing that it takes to produce a first novel, I asked my agent, Kate Garrick of DeFiore & Company, to estimate the percentage of the first novels submitted to her she considers saleable. Her answer (like all these answers, via e-mail):
We could not be happier to bring back our friend Barrie Hardymon, who's out in California but still made time to come and chat with us. In recognition that we are soon to see the live-action Maleficent coming from Disney, we chat about fairy tales. "These are stories we tell our kids to get them to abandon us," Glen says. "We're giving them the psychic armor, the psychic tools, to say goodbye." We talk about old fairy tales, Disney-fied versions, and Glen's recognition that Germany hasn't had an easy time of it with their own versions.