Arts

Book Reviews
4:02 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

The Tawdry Ballad Of A Man, A Casino And A Game Of Chance

Courtesy of Hogarth

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 5:26 pm

Millionaire Chinese gamblers, high-class Mongolian escorts, drunken Englishmen — these are the kind of characters who populate Lawrence Osborne's hypnotic new novel, The Ballad of a Small Player. Set in the hotels and casinos of Macau, a former Portuguese colony where ostentatious 21st century glamour meets the faded charms of old Asia, the novel traces the trajectory of a compulsive gambler, the self-styled "Lord" Doyle, a man who seems addicted to failure. "Everyone knows that you are not a real player until you secretly prefer losing," he asserts at the beginning of the novel.

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Pop Culture
12:14 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

For Comic Hari Kondabolu, Explaining The Joke IS The Joke

Comic Hari Kondabolu's album Waiting for 2042 is a reference to the year the Census Bureau projects whites will be the minority in the U.S. "Don't worry, white people," he says. "You were a minority when you came to this country. Things seemed to have worked out for you."
Kyle Johnson

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 2:23 pm

At first, Hari Kondabolu's comedy was mostly about catharsis: "I was doing some work in detention centers and meeting families who had family members who were going to be deported," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was really powerful work ... but it was incredibly hard and performing at night was a relief. It was cathartic. It was just a way to get things out."

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Music
10:27 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Library Of Congress, How Could You Forget Run-DMC?

Rap group Run-DMC at the second annual MTV Video Music Awards. Does the group belong in the Library of Congress?
Suriani AP

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 3:53 pm

Rap and hip-hop have been around for decades and have become one of America's most successful cultural exports.

But when the Library of Congress added new recordings to its national registry this year, none of them were hip-hop.

Tell Me More guest host Celeste Headlee discusses that with William Boone, professor in the English and African-American studies department at Winston-Salem State University. He says that hip-hop artists are used to being overlooked by the powers that be.

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Monkey See
7:22 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Shirley, This Is The Dawn Of A New 'Mad Men'

Teyonah Parris as Dawn Chambers, whose future changed quite a bit on Sunday night's Mad Men.
Jordin Althaus AMC

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 8:33 am

[This post discusses the plot of Sunday night's episode.]

Once Mad Men moved into the early-middle part of the 1960s, people began to ask an increasingly urgent question: Where was the civil rights movement? Where were the black people? Was Sterling Cooper (Draper Pryce) (And Partners) really so sheltered that race barely touched its tiny world?

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The Two-Way
5:34 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Book News: 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' Author Doris Pilkington Garimara Dies

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Author Interviews
3:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Far From 'Infinitesimal': A Mathematical Paradox's Role In History

The 17th-century rivalry between English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, left, and English mathematician John Wallis lasted decades.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 4:43 pm

Here's a stumper: How many parts can you divide a line into?

It seems like a simple question. You can cut it in half. Then you can cut those lines in half, then cut those lines in half again. Just how many parts can you make? A hundred? A billion? Why not more?

You can keep on dividing forever, so every line has an infinite amount of parts. But how long are those parts? If they're anything greater than zero, then the line would seem to be infinitely long. And if they're zero, well, then no matter how many parts there are, the length of the line would still be zero.

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Monkey See
11:11 am
Sun April 20, 2014

From 'Field Of Dreams' To 'Draft Day': Who Cares About The Front Office?

Kevin Costner warms up to pitch in the 1989 film Field Of Dreams.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 9:23 am

Sports movies were powerful once. In the '80s and '90s, there were hits about football, baseball, basketball, hockey, boxing, karate – and they were movies about teams and players and coaches, not scouts and executives.

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Theater
8:37 am
Sun April 20, 2014

Daniel Radcliffe's 'Crippled' Role Reaches Out To The Remote

Daniel Radcliffe (right) plays Billy, in a scene with Pat Shortt as Johnnypateenmike, in the Broadway production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan.
Johan Persson Michael Grandage Company

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 9:53 am

Even before he finished his eight-film run as Harry Potter, actor Daniel Radcliffe spent a considerable time devoted to the stage, both in London and New York. He appeared on Broadway in Equus and spent a year playing J. Pierrepont Finch, the lead role in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

On Sunday night, the 24-year-old actor opens at Broadway's Cort Theatre in a production of Martin McDonagh's dark Irish comedy, The Cripple of Inishmaan.

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Movie Reviews
6:07 am
Sun April 20, 2014

'Fading Gigolo' Full Of Loneliness And Longing

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 11:34 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Actor John Turturro is known for his work in films like "Quiz Show" and "The Big Lebowski." With his long face and hang-dog look, he's probably not what you'd call a matinee idol. But he went ahead and cast himself as the title character in his new movie, "Fading Gigolo." And he cast Woody Allen as his pimp. Critic Bob Mondello says it's easy to imagine ways this concept might go terribly wrong, but it doesn't.

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Book News & Features
6:07 am
Sun April 20, 2014

'Traveling Pants' Author Tries Traveling In Time

Author Ann Brashares became a young adult superstar more than a decade ago with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a feel-good series of books about the adventures of four best friends and a really great pair of jeans. It was eventually made into a couple of movies.

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Author Interviews
6:07 am
Sun April 20, 2014

Exploring The Secret History Of The Cubicle

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 9:34 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to a topic you may be intimately familiar with, the office - the paperwork, the cubicles, the potentially awkward social dynamic. It is an almost universal experience that's been baked into our pop-culture, like in the movie "Office Space."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "OFFICE SPACE")

GARY COLE: (As Bill Lumbergh) Hello, Peter. What's happening? Uh, we have sort of a problem here. Yeah, you apparently didn't put one of the new cover sheets on your TPS reports.

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Food
6:07 am
Sun April 20, 2014

Soup to Nuts, Restaurants Smoke It All

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 9:53 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So you thought smoking in restaurants was out. Well, you are right, of course. Smoking cigarettes in restaurants and bars is definitely taboo, but another kind of smoking is pretty popular in the culinary scene these days. WEEKEND EDITION food commentator Bonny Wolf tells us more.

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Author Interviews
6:07 am
Sun April 20, 2014

BBC Icon Finds Children's Adventure In An Element Hunter

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 9:53 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the UK, Simon Mayo is a household name. Countless people grew up listening to him as the breakfast show host of BBC Radio One and BBC Radio 5 Live, where he was on air during 9/11. He still broadcasts a daily show for the B, but has in the last few years turned his hand to writing. The second book in his children's series is called "Itch Rocks." It is out now in the United States. And he joins us from our studios in London. Mr. Mayo, thanks so much for being with us.

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Three Books...
3:11 am
Sun April 20, 2014

All Grown Up? Three Books About The Mystery Of Coming Of Age

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 12:42 pm

Some books have a subject so timeless as to be almost mythic — it's as though these stories are reinvented each time a new book appears, since the subject is right at the heart of what it means to be human. Coming of age books, if they are any good, have this mythic quality. Here are three that are at the top of the scale.

What does it mean to grow up? And why are adults so fascinated by this transition from the innocent to the knowledgeable?

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Author Interviews
3:09 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Writing The Wicked Ways Of The 'Worst. Person. Ever.'

Courtesy of Penguin

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 11:26 am

Douglas Coupland's latest book, Worst. Person. Ever., is a profane, shocking novel that centers around an awful guy named Raymond Gunt.

"Imagine there's this really bitter English guy who has Tourette's and swore all the time, except he doesn't have Tourette's, he just swears a lot. Like, a lot — to the point where it almost becomes like performance art," Coupland tells NPR's Arun Rath.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:03 am
Sat April 19, 2014

So This Is How They Do It! Zebras Getting Stripes

Ricardo Solis

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 10:42 am

How did it happen? How'd the zebra get its stripes?

In Rudyard Kipling's version, a gray, horsey-looking beast went into "a great forest 'sclusively full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-batchy shadows," stayed there awhile, and after a "long time"... got stripy.

OK. Not bad.

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Author Interviews
6:12 am
Sat April 19, 2014

How A Music Writer Learned Trust Is The Ultimate Backstage Pass

Lisa Robinson interviews a young Michael Jackson at his family's house in Encino, Calif., in October 1972.
Andrew Kent Courtesy of Riverhead Books

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 6:00 am

Lisa Robinson has done just about every kind of music writing there is.

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Movie Reviews
6:12 am
Sat April 19, 2014

'Say Anything,' Still Full Of Guileless Affection

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 9:44 am

Transcript

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

Twenty-five years ago, Lloyd Dobler raised a boombox over his head and changed the world of movie boyfriends forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN YOUR EYES")

PETER GABRIEL: (Singing) All my instincts, they return...

GOODWYN: Linda Holmes, of our pop culture blog "Monkey See," was a teenager when she first saw the film "Say Anything..." She says all these years later, she has a new appreciation of it.

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Theater
3:20 am
Sat April 19, 2014

For Chris O'Dowd, 'Of Mice And Men' Is More Than An American Story

"Any time you're playing someone with a cognitive disability of any kind it's dangerous territory," says Chris O'Dowd, of playing Lennie, in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Leighton Meester plays the wife of Curley, the son of Lennie's boss.
Richard Phibbs Polk and Co.

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 9:40 am

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men — about George and Lennie, two laborers and unlikely friends during the Great Depression — may seem like a quintessentially American story. But Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, who plays Lennie in a new Broadway production the novella, says Steinbeck is "quite oddly" very popular in Ireland.

There's something about Of Mice and Men that appeals to the Irish people, O'Dowd tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn. "All of us have chased the American dream so there's something very universal about it," he says.

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This Week's Must Read
4:50 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

A Love Letter To Literature: Reading Gabo In 'The Paris Review'

Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in 1982, died Thursday at 87.
Paco Junquera Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 5:13 pm

Everyone has a favorite Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, and mine is Love in the Time of Cholera. It's the story of a romance that lasts decades, unwinding through the pages of the book. It's verbose, vibrant and full of love.

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Code Switch
2:58 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Playwright Phillip Hayes Dean Dies At 83

Courtesy of Craig Schwartz Photography

Playwright Phillip Hayes Dean died earlier this week. His family says the 83 year-old died in Los Angeles of a heart condition. He was in the midst of overseeing a production of his most famous play, "Paul Robeson."

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Politics
2:08 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Hey, Superheroes On The National Mall: Any Advice For Congress?

People arrive on the National Mall Friday dressed as comic book characters during the kickoff of Awesome Con 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 5:13 pm

Hundreds of people gathered on the National Mall Friday to see if they could break the Guinness World Record for the largest group dressed as comic book characters ever assembled.

It was the kickoff to Awesome Con 2014, a comic book convention that will take place in Washington, D.C., this weekend. In the end, the group came up short by several hundred people to break the world record.

But with so much superhero power concentrated next to the U.S. Capitol, NPR had to ask: Did the caped figures have any advice for Congress?

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The Salt
2:03 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Like Ham? There's A Festival For That In French Basque Country

Visitors look at Bayonne hams displayed on the first day of the yearly ham fair.
Gaizka Iroz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 3:52 pm

In Bayonne, they take their ham very, very seriously.

This medieval fortress of a town is minutes from the French seaside ports of Barritz and St. Jean de Luz, and not far from Spain's St. Sebastian. It has reigned as a cultural and commercial center for a millennium, according to historian Mark Kurlansky in The Basque History of the World.

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Movie Reviews
1:09 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Loneliness And Longing — And Woody Allen — In 'Fading Gigolo'

John Turturro plays a gigolo — and Woody Allen is his pimp — in the new Fading Gigolo.
Millennium Entertainment

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 5:13 pm

With his long face and hangdog appearance, actor John Turturro is no one's idea of a matinee idol — not even his own — so he raised a lot of eyebrows when he cast himself as the title character in Fading Gigolo. Even more when he cast Woody Allen as his pimp. So it may come as a relief when things don't go as wrong with what turns out to be a surprisingly sweet little dramedy as they might have.

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Movie Reviews
11:52 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Undead Hipsters And An Abstract Alien Star In Two Arty Horror Pics

In Under The Skin, Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who adopts an English accent and cruises Scotland enticing hitchhikers into a darkened building.
Film4

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 12:20 pm

Every so often a high-toned arthouse director dips a toe into the horror genre and the results are uplifting: You realize vampires and space aliens are subjects too rich to be the sole property of schlockmeisters. That's the case with two new arty genre pictures: Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin and Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive — both slow, expressionist, non-narrative, the kind of films that drive some people crazy with boredom and put others in their thrall.

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Television
10:48 am
Fri April 18, 2014

The Return Of The Many Shows They Call 'Orphan Black'

Tatiana Maslany plays many roles in BBC America's Orphan Black.
Steve Wilkie BBC America

When I saw the first episode of BBC America's Orphan Black last year, I was convinced it was a crappy Canadian police drama.

That's because the set-up seemed like the oddest sort of crime procedural nonsense. A street urchin-style grifter sees a middle class woman who looks just like her leap in front of a commuter train, nabs her purse and climbs into her life – only to find her doppelganger is a troubled police officer with problems of her own.

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Barbershop
9:58 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Should College Dropouts Be Honored By Their Alma Maters?

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 10:35 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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Faith Matters
9:58 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Gefilte Fish Shortage: Best Thing Since The Parting Of The Red Sea?

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 10:35 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Speaking of religion still, if there's one thing that goes hand-in-hand with faith, it is generally food. There have been a number of different food shortages in this country you may have heard about lately. We reported on this program about the shortage of limes. We've seen reports of rising beef prices as well. But right now, during Passover, gefilte fish is in short supply. Matt Chaban joins us now from member station WESA in Pittsburgh. He wrote about this for the New York Times. Matt, welcome.

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Monkey See
9:15 am
Fri April 18, 2014

So, 'Scandal' Writers, How Did You Write That Awful Wrist Thing?

Kerry Washington, Shonda Rhimes and Jim Rash chat about how Scandal is written on Sundance's The Writers' Room.
JC Dhien Sundance Channel

Sundance has been making strides in scripted television with series like Rectify and Top Of The Lake, but Friday night also brings back a charming little interview show they have — sort of a perfect Friday night show, actually.

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The Two-Way
5:40 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Book News: The Celebrity Of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez appeared in public during a celebration marking his 87th birthday on March 6 in Mexico City. He died Thursday.
Yuri Cortez AFP/Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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