Poker is a favorite metaphor for life, and Colson Whitehead says it's not a bad comparison — especially for big city life. "I think you survive in New York just by having fewer bad things happen to you," he tells NPR's Scott Simon. "And I think that's true for poker as well: If you can play your good cards your bad cards decently and hope that your other player is not as adept at riding these currents of luck and circumstance, you're in good shape."
New York City's Posman Books is bucking a trend. Other booksellers — both independents and big chains like Barnes & Noble — are closing stores in Manhattan, but Posman is getting ready to open its fourth store in the city. It's one sign that some independent bookstores are managing to thrive despite the problems that have beset booksellers in recent years.
On a recent day, customers browsing at Posman Books in the Chelsea Market had a variety of needs: One was killing time before work, another was looking for a Mother's Day card, and yet another needed a new sketchbook.
Rick Schwartz is the official animal ambassador for the world famous San Diego Zoo. And because he is an ambassador, he has diplomatic immunity — if he commits a crime on our show we can only hand him back to the orangutans for punishment.
Schwartz — and his sidekick parrot Rio — may know a lot about zoos, but what do they know about Zumba? We'll ask them three questions about the Latin music-inspired exercise craze that swept the nation.
Here's a unique specialty for a movie studio: slavery films. Last year, Fox Searchlight brought us an Oscar winner about a free black man hauled into 12 years of slavery. Now, in Amma Asante's Belle, the company is releasing what's essentially the reverse of that story — a similarly torn-from-life (though significantly less wrenching) tale of a slave girl who had the great good fortune to be raised as a British aristocrat.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens this weekend, and some moviegoers will pay up to $6 more to see it in IMAX, where the screens are bigger and the action should be more intense. "So real you can feel it in your bones," is how IMAX puts it. But is the IMAX at the multiplex the same as the IMAX you can see at the museum?
Each Peach Market in Washington, D.C., is a far cry from the Trader Joe's where I usually shop. For one thing, it's tiny — smaller than the apartment I share with two others. And there are no lines snaking through aisles and aisles of tempting goods.
You'll find the usual staples here, and also artisanal pickles, locally grown and cured charcuterie, and yogurt from Pennsylvania's Amish country. But don't expect much selection — there are just two brands of olive oil, rather than the several shelves to choose from at Harris Teeter.
We're celebrating Godzilla's 60th anniversary today on FRESH AIR. When the film was first shown in America, about 40 minutes were deleted from the original Japanese version to make it shorter and to make way for new footage that was added to make the movie more marketable to American audiences. The new footage featured an American wire service reporter whose reports provided the narration for the story.
The reporter was played by Raymond Burr, who went on to play TV lawyer Perry Mason. Here's how Burr opened the film.
The Polish-born director Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski's is best known for the English-language movie "My Summer of Love," a lesbian coming-of-age film that was a breakthrough for actress Emily Blunt. His new film is called "Ida," spelled I-D-A and centers on an orphan who learns the secret of her past when she's on the brink of becoming a nun. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.
British actor Bob Hoskins, who played a human detective in a world of cartoon characters in the acclaimed movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," died this week after contracting pneumonia. He was 71 years old.
There have been hundreds of monster movies over the years, but only a handful of enduringly great movie monsters. Of those, only two were created for the screen: King Kong, the giant ape atop the Empire State Building, and his Japanese heir, Godzilla, the city-flattening sea monster who's a genuinely terrific pop icon. He not only stars in movies — Hollywood is bringing out a new Godzilla on May 16 — but he's even played basketball with Charles Barkley in a commercial for Nike.
This week's show finds us chatting with our pal Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch about, among other things, posthumous projects. There are still films coming out from Paul Walker and Philip Seymour Hoffman, there's an upcoming release of Michael Jackson recordings, and life after death for musicians is practically a tradition. We talk about Kafka, J Dilla, David Foster Wallace, and the ethics of piecing together work that was unfinished or perhaps even abandoned when the artist is no longer around to say yes or no.
Director Amma Asante found the story behind her new movie, Belle, in a painting: artist Johann Zoffany's 18th century portrait of two beautiful, young English ladies, draped in silks and pearls. The twist? One is biracial.
Belle is based on the real-life story of that woman, Dido Elizabeth Belle, who was the daughter of a Royal Navy captain and the slave he met after capturing a Spanish ship.
Everyone is on a voyage of self-discovery in Ida — the two central characters certainly, but also Poland-born, Britain-based director Pawel Pawlikowski, making his first film in the homeland he left at 14.
When Bruce (Thomas Haden Church) barrels over a man with his snowplow in the opening scene of Whitewash, it looks like an accident. Perhaps not a blameless one on Bruce's part if the half-empty bottle of liquor rolling around the floor of the vehicle is any indication, but an accident nonetheless. Besides, the victim was stopped in a dark portion of the street, out of the range of the few streetlights on the small-town road, all as a brutal snowstorm reduced visibility to nearly nil.
It's now 1969 on AMC's Mad Men, and the start of advertising genius Don Draper's final journey. Show creator Matthew Weiner is currently at work writing and shooting the series' concluding episodes. The final season, which began last month, is divided into two parts, with the second half to be shown next year.
The new season opens with Don and his advertising agency dealing with the consequences of what happened at the end of Season 6, when the partners forced Don to take a leave of absence after he chose the wrong time to tell the truth about his past.
There's a great movie to be found in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it's not about superheroes, supervillains or impending urban calamities. It's a deeply felt and hugely winning romantic tragi-comedy about a pair of recent high school grads who are perfect for each other in every way, but just can't ever seem to get their timing right.
I first read The Windflower after I was told by several people that without it, my romance education was incomplete — and often, whoever was advising me would just degenerate into making incoherent noises. I call this Good Book Noise, and I think we've all made it while discussing a book we love. It's a combination of a gasp and a sigh, usually followed by a quietly reverent, "Ah, I love that book."
A great deal of Good Book Noise has been made about The Windflower, and with good reason. It is one of the most cherished historical romances ever published.
British actor Bob Hoskins died last night of pneumonia at 71. He'll certainly be remembered for starring with cartoon characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit — but that was just one of many films in which he played tough guys with soft hearts.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. There are a lot of things to celebrate today. It's our seventh anniversary on the air, for one thing, so happy birthday to us. And what better way to celebrate than talking about music because it also happens to be International Jazz Day. That genre has come a long way from its birth in the American South.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Now it's time for a visit to the Beauty Shop. That's where our panel of women commentators and journalists take a fresh cut on the week's news. Sitting in the chairs for a new 'do this week are Bridget Johnson, Washington, D.C. editor of PJ Media. That's a conservative libertarian news and commentary site here in D.C.
Finally, the weather is warming up. And that means I'm dreaming about ice cream sundaes.
When I was researching my book Ice Cream: A Global History, sundaes were the ice cream treat I was most eager to learn about. For me, there's no more sumptuous dessert than the classic American combo of ice cream, toppings and whipped cream.
For its first ever all-Latin American issue, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern has assembled a worthy lineup of writers and translators. Spanning 10 different countries — and featuring contributions from Alejandro Zambra and Juan Pablo Villalobos — this latest offering is as rousing as it is essential. And, true to form, killer on the design front.
There was a time in Eastern Europe when the landscape was dotted with wooden synagogues, some dating to the 1600s. Inside, the walls and ceilings were covered with intricate painted designs. Almost all of these structures were destroyed during the Holocaust, and with them, a folk art. But in Burlington, Vt., a synagogue mural has been uncovered where it lay hidden for a quarter century.