Willie Perdomo's third collection of poems is sonically charged: he celebrates his Puerto Rican heritage and the music that came out of the Puerto Rican community in New York by narrating the imagined life of Shorty Bon Bon, the percussionist of a descarga (jamming) salsa band in the 1960s and '70s. The character is partly inspired by Perdomo's real-life uncle, who played percussion on two of Charlie Palmieri's '70s recordings.
Writing a biography of John Updike is a tricky thing: The acclaimed American writer of elegant essays and elegiac novels and short stories may have been a genius, but he was also disconcertingly normal. He liked to drink, but wasn't a drunk; he had two marriages, but wasn't a womanizer; he could be wistful, but rarely depressed. He was a straight, white, Christian man who liked golf.
We've invited comedian Amy Schumer to play a game called "Play ball!" It's the first week of baseball season, so we'll ask three questions about the House of David baseball team — one of the weirdest and most religious teams in the history of the game.
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Say the name Alan Partridge in Britain, and everyone knows who you're talking about: An airheaded, funny and entirely fictional broadcaster prone to saying things like, "You can keep Jesus — as far as I'm concerned, Neil Diamond will always be King of the Jews."
British comedian Steve Coogan has been playing Partridge on radio and TV for more than 20 years. Recently, the character made a successful leap to British movie theaters — and his new movie may make a successful leap across the Atlantic as well.
On this week's show, Matt Thompson sits in as we talk about Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Were we overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Merely whelmed? How hard can I get myself thinking about the shots out the window of the Triskelion? (The answer to that last one is: entirely too hard, I know.) For more about the windows, the postcard views and more, don't miss my review from earlier this week.
Movie lovers probably already know Anthony Mackie from supporting but meaty roles in the Oscar-winning films 8 Mile, Million Dollar Baby and The Hurt Locker. But now he heads to the Marvel Universe in the new action film Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Mackie plays the Falcon, also known as Sam Wilson, a former military paratrooper skilled in air combat. He teams up with Captain America to face the legendary assassin known as the Winter Soldier.
David Letterman, the longest-serving late night television host, is retiring.
(SOUNDBITE OF SHOW, 'LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN')
DAVID LETTERMAN: Sometime in the not-so-distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up and taking a hike.
SIEGEL: Letterman, who is 66, told the audience today during a taping of his late show program which will air tonight. Here to talk about David Letterman is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. And Eric, why has Letterman decided to retire now?
Why do love and war go so well together in novels? It isn't only because they're both naturally dramatic themes. Sometimes, in fact, each is so big and overwhelming that they can seem beyond the grasp of words. And so a writer who tries to show the struggle of two people with deep feelings for each other, "set against a backdrop of violence" (as a novel's flap copy might read), can just seem like he's overreaching. But Dinaw Mengestu uses love and war to powerfully explore a third, equally dramatic theme: identity.
It might have seemed like an unsurprising thing to do when Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took three entire days off to tend to his newborn child, but if you listen to sports commentary, you know that it was not without controversy.
We may think of baseball as America's national pastime, but in the 1870s and 1880s there was another sports craze sweeping the nation: competitive walking. "Watching people walk was America's favorite spectator sport," Matthew Algeo says in his new book, Pedestrianism.
This is FRESH AIR. This Sunday HBO presents the season premiers of two returning series - "Game of Thrones" and "VEEP" - and launches a new series, a Mike Judge comedy called "Silicon Valley." Our TV critic David Bianculli has seen them all.
Jerry Seinfeld used to joke that if you have bloodstains on your clothes, you probably have bigger problems than your laundry. But Jolie Kerr is here to help with all the stains — her new book is titled My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag ... and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha.
Kerr is known for giving cleaning advice for unconventional and embarrassing housecleaning and laundry problems — without the judgment of the typical holier-than-thou housekeeping advice columnist.
We just mentioned that dancing on "Soul Train" was the big break for a number of entertainers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley. Well, our colleagues at All Things Considered have been hearing stories from a number of other people about the moment when their careers took off.
Robin Thicke's 2013 song "Blurred Lines" asks, "What rhymes with hug me?" He should have asked guest musician Julian Velard, who sing reworked lyrical clues that answer the question with some blurred rhymes of their own.
A boyfriend once called Leslie Jamison "a wound dweller." This is one of many personal morsels she shares in her virtuosic book of essays, The Empathy Exams, in which she intrepidly probes sore spots to explore how our reactions to both our own pain and that of others define us as human beings. Jamison notes with concern that ironic detachment has become the fallback in this "post-wounded" age that fears "anything too tender, too touchy-feely." The Empathy Exams presents a brainy but heartfelt case for compassion even at the risk of sentimentality.