Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 1:17 pm
It worried me when my daughter didn't like Star Wars. Even though I told her there was a princess in it, she was wholly unimpressed and, from the start, a little bit creeped out by Darth Vader and all the stormtroopers. Granted, she was only 6 when I first tried to bring her into the fold of my obsession, but that was twice as old as I'd been when I'd first fallen hard for the original trilogy. It was ... disconcerting.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 5:10 pm
Some movies try to underscore their authenticity by flashing dates, names and locations on the screen. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom offers some dates and locations, but not much in the way of names. The result is a history of national transformation in which only two people really seem to matter.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 4:29 pm
To many baffled outsiders over 40, Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna was a weirdo riot grrrl bopping up and down onstage in her bra and panties, bellowing atonal revenge lyrics at anyone who'd keep her and her fellow women down.
To her ardent young following of 1990s Third Wave feminists, though, Hanna was an alt Messiah, hacking out a space for women in the punk-rock mosh pit and sounding an enraged alarm on behalf of victims of sexual assault.
Jacob Latimore (from left), Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker power through the season in Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity, a Christmas movie musical based on Langston Hughes' gospel oratorio.
Credit Phil Bray / Fox Searchlight Pictures
The movie adds a framing device to Hughes' story --one in which Naima (Hudson) sends her son (Latimore) to live with his grandparents after she falls on hard times.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 6:55 pm
Like Eve's Bayou, her best-known movie, Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity presents a child's view of a troubled family. The latter film is sweeter and slenderer, but that's only to be expected: Black Nativity is a musical, after all, as well as a credible attempt at an African-American holiday perennial.
The original Black Nativity is a gospel-music oratorio, conceived by poet Langston Hughes and first performed in 1961. It pairs the Christian Nativity story with traditional spirituals and African drumming.
In an annual tradition, writer Bailey White spins a fictional tale of love and life. This year's entry is about a woman dying of cancer who is attended to by a series of old boyfriends, each of whom contributes some sort of minor service. The story ends with a symbolic event at an old hollow tree in the woods, where a coiled snake meets a violent end.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:05 am
The deadline is looming for "wrimos" — writers challenged to clock in a 50,000 word novel by November 30th.
"We're the largest writing event in the world," says Grant Faulkner, executive director of the Berkeley-based non-profit NaNoWriMo — short for National Novel Writing Month. "People's to-do list revolves around food and shelter, but I would say that creativity is a necessity of life, so we need to do what we can to nurture more creators in the world."
Let's face it, while Thanksgiving get-togethers can be joyful, they can also be stressful. And if you're gearing up for a family gathering right now, you're likely awaiting the arrival of a few loved ones who may be a little hard to love sometimes.
Knowing that, we've called on Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated column "Ask Amy," for some advice on how to get through the holiday. Hey there, Amy.
Actor Josh Gad, who voiced Olaf, was tasked with providing a broad range of sounds — some of them quite unmusical — to accompany the various scrapes the snowman gets himself into.
Credit Walt Disney Pictures
Disney's animators took playful advantage of the unique physical qualities that might affect — maybe even afflict — a sentient snowman, reconfiguring his body at whim.
Credit Walt Disney Pictures
When the Frozen filmmakers realized that one thing a hapless snowman and a hungry reindeer might have in common is an affinity for carrots, a decidedly pointed gag was born.
Credit Walt Disney Pictures
The Gag's The Thing: Olaf the snowman has all kinds of nose trouble — and not just sniffles — in Disney's animated musical Frozen. This storyboard image is an animator's early notion of how the visual joke might play out.
Credit Walt Disney Pictures
After a long process, the gag from the storyboard has become colored, computer-animated reality in the final film.
Those of us slaving over pecan and pumpkin pies ahead of Thanksgiving already know that pie-making season is decidedly in full swing. And on a segment for Morning Edition airing Thursday, host David Greene and I discuss the best advice for pie-making newbies. Really, it comes down to this:
Baking is not like cooking a stew or soup. Bakers can't take as many liberties — adding a pinch of this or that.
This is a big week for Mystery Science Theater 3000, or as big a week as can be had for a show that's been off the air since the waning days of the 20th century. The show first aired a quarter of a century ago this past Sunday, and the 25th-anniversary volume (XXVIII, if you're keeping Roman score of the ongoing DVD releases and not the anniversaries) hit shelves on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Thursday marks the return of an MST3K Thanksgiving tradition, the Turkey Day marathon.
England got a lot more of The Beatles than Americans did during the group's formative years. Between 1962 and 1965, The Beatles were featured on 53 BBC radio programs, including their own series, Pop Go the Beatles. They performed originals and covers and chatted with BBC hosts.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 12:19 pm
On Monday morning, national treasure Bruce Springsteen announced that he'll release a new studio album two weeks into the new year. For dedicated fans like me, the announcement was full of curious details to pick over and discuss: Three songs, including the the title track, "High Hopes," were not written by Springsteen. Tom Morello, who's been playing with him on tour and whom The Boss calls "my muse" in the announcement, plays guitar on eight.
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 5:24 pm
When the days would grow shorter and the weather would turn wintry, I used to find myself despairing over the quality of salad fixings at my local market. Limp, tired lettuce. Pale tomatoes as hard as potatoes. Cucumbers with skins like buffalo hides. So I'd stop making salads altogether, until springtime rolled around and the first crop of tender young greens would show up at my local farmers market.
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 6:55 am
Imaginary countries, from Swift's Laputa to the far lands in the works of Borges and Ursula K. Le Guin, countries we'd do better to just enjoy than try to find on a map — these strike us as mostly places it's better to visit than to live in.
With another holiday shopping season on the horizon, one group of retailers is doing better than you might expect. Despite intense competition from Amazon and big box retailers, independent bookstores are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.
Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books in Seattle, says for a couple of decades independent booksellers have been fighting an uphill battle, but now things are finally improving.
The new animated musical Frozen is based — sort of, hypothetically, in theory, or at least according to the Disney studio — on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen.
Not in ways anyone would notice, however, and not in ways that will in any way distract moviegoers from thinking about the other works that seem to have influenced its creators; unlike in many animated movies, the borrowings aren't so much in-jokey as structural. Homages, of a sort, and fun to spot.
Mark your calendars: According to some scholars, the next time it might happen is the year 79,811. I'm talking, of course, about the hybrid holiday of Thanksgivukkah, a melding of Thanksgiving and the Jewish Festival of Lights. The Borsch Belt-style Pilgrim jokes and mishmash recipes (turkey brined in Manischewitz, anyone?) are flying around the Internet; but since Jews are frequently referred to as "the People of the Book" and Pilgrims pretty much lived by the Book, Thanksgivukkah seems to me like the quintessential (stressful) family holiday to celebrate by escaping into a book.
Adventurous carnivores from all over New England have been flocking to the Wild Game Supper in Bradford, Vt., for almost 60 years. The fare at this year's event included beaver, boar, moose and buffalo.
Credit Herb Swanson for NPR
Moose patties sweetened with blueberries cook on the grill before the start of the Wild Game Supper.
Credit / Herb Swanson for NPR
Diners head into the Bradford United Church of Christ before the start of this year's Wild Game Supper. Food writer Calvin Trillin has dubbed the event "the Superbowl of church suppers."
The wild-game supper has traditionally been a way for rural America to share the harvest before winter sets in. Food historians trace the ritual back to Colonial times, when families had to hunt in order to eat well, and some providers were better shots than others.
If you're headed to the ballet this season, chances are to hear something like the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from "The Nutcracker," this season's dance blockbuster as usual. But dance doesn't always sound this sweet. Sometimes it sounds more like this.
Seventeen-year-old Tonisha Owens stared wide-eyed at the faded script on an 1854 letter. It was once carried by another 17-year-old — a slave named Frances. The letter was written by a plantation owner's wife to a slave dealer, saying that she needed to sell her chambermaid to pay for horses. But Frances didn't know how to read or write, and didn't know what she carried.
"She does not know she is to be sold. I couldn't tell her," the letter reads. "I own all her family and the leave taking would be so distressing that I could not."
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 10:37 am
Ah, the old beer-tapping prank: One strong hit on the top of an open beer bottle, and poof! Your IPA explodes into a brewski volcano.
"In one second, most of your beer has really turned into foam," says physicist Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez of Carlos III University in Madrid. "You better have put the bottle into your mouth, because you need to drink whatever is coming out."
If there's one Thanksgiving mistake Jack Bishop sees more than any other, it's people rushing to carve their birds. Bishop is editorial director of the public TV series America's Test Kitchen. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Turkey needs to rest before you carve it ... and a lot fewer juices will end up on the carving board."
Bishop and Bridget Lancaster, also of America's Test Kitchen, share their tips for buying, seasoning and cooking a turkey, and describe some of their favorite side dishes.
Katie Couric made her name on NBC's Today show, which she hosted for 15 years. Since leaving the network in 2006, Couric has anchored CBS Evening News and launched her own daytime talk show on ABC, Katie.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, a couple of days until Thanksgiving means just a short wait for pie. But instead of slicing it up this year, have you thought about putting it on a stick? Let us be the first to introduce you to pie pops. That's later. But first, you may get your fill of more than just dessert this holiday season. You might also be treated to a heaping helping of family news.
During a visit to a store last holiday season, Jewish father Neal Hoffman felt bad telling his son Jake that he couldn't have an Elf on the Shelf. The widely popular Christmas toy is intended to watch children's behavior for Santa. Hoffman kept thinking, maybe there could be something similar, but rooted in Jewish tradition.
Hoffman, a former Hasbro employee, decided Mensch on a Bench was the answer. "A mensch means a really good person. It's a person that you strive to be," he says.
When the Whitney Museum of American Art announced the artists for its 2014 biennial, people took to the Internet to chime in about who's been included and who's been left out; the last biennial had been blasted for ignoring Latino artists. But when a new show opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum featuring only Latino artists — "Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art" — it was blasted for other reasons.
Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 2:41 pm
Subscribers to Oprah's O magazine wait all year for the "Oprah's Favorite Things" issue, in which Oprah lists a bunch of things you need to buy if you want any chance of becoming Oprah. It's just out, and in it Oprah mentions that she makes for Stedman something she calls a "Love Sandwich." If you don't know who Stedman is, I'm not even going to put a link here to help you, because really, you should already know.