Poor Donna Reed: Her Mary would have ended up working in a library — shudder — if not for the matrimonial intervention of Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey. Happily, 1946's It's a Wonderful Life isn't the only lens through which pop culture assesses the worth of the institution and those who make it tick.
When I was 9, I spent a lot of time at a public library just down the street; I was already a theater nerd, and it had a well-stocked theater section. Not just books, but original cast albums for Broadway shows old and new. One day, an addition: The Music Man, about a salesman who was crazy about a girl named, as one song put it, "Marrrrrrrion, madam librarian."
Instead of throwing out the nutritious broth that's left over when you cook down greens, why not use it as the base for a delicious dish like this rockfish with clams in a garlic-shallot pot liquor sauce?
Credit Alison Aubrey / NPR
Chef James Huff of Pearl Dive restaurant ladles up some pot liquor fresh from a steaming pot of sauteed collard greens and kale.
The Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black has won over critics and viewers alike this summer. The original series follows a diverse cast of characters in a women's prison in upstate New York. One of the breakout stars is Laverne Cox. Her character, Sophia, is a transgender woman who stands up for herself among prison officials and other inmates.
Cox spoke with Tell Me More host Michel Martin about the show and her experience as a transgender woman and actress.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 8:44 am
To be or not to be? You decide.
Shakespeare's most famous question appears in Hamlet, but now readers will get to answer it themselves with Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure, a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style rewrite of Shakespeare's classic play.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman of Perks of Being a Wallflower) and his pal Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) are two of the unusually talented teens resident at Camp Half-Blood, a summer retreat for — well, demigods, not to put too fine a point on it.
Credit Murray Close / Twentieth Century Fox
Wine god Dionysus (Stanley Tucci) is charged with protecting the resident half-humans — though he's anything but fond of Percy.
Returning from sleep-away camp, my teenage daughter, who'd hitherto declared reading a foreign pursuit, announced that she was now a "bookie." Ruthlessly suppressing my inner jig, I nodded casually and asked how this literary epiphany had come about. A cabin full of reader-girls, it seemed, had turned her on to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. And so it came to pass that, over the next few weeks, my child holed up at the library and indulged a burgeoning obsession with Greek mythology.
Warning: The following story may be upsetting to some people.
That's because it's about clowns.
Yes, clowns. Painted white faces, red lips, receding hairlines with tufts of wild hair, and — of course — the red foam nose. Fun for all ages, yet plenty of people are downright scared of them. There's even a word for it: coulrophobia, though that's not an official diagnosis.
Before I read Adelle Waldman's brilliant debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I had about as much interest in reading about the hip, young literary types who've colonized Brooklyn as I do in watching Duck Dynasty, that reality show about a family of bearded Luddites who live in the Louisiana swamps. Both clans are ingrown and smug, each, in their own way, disdainful of the American mainstream.
Bob Odenkirk plays sleazeball lawyer Saul Goodman on AMC's Breaking Bad. The show is in its final season, but creator Vince Gilligan has talked about doing a spinoff series for Saul that would star Odenkirk.
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 12:55 pm
Today is Andy Warhol's birthday, marking 85 years since the artist was born. To honor the icon of pop art, the Andy Warhol Museum, located in his hometown of Pittsburgh, is streaming video from his gravesite.
The museum calls the project Figment — a reference, it explains, to this quote from the late artist:
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:56 am
Marisha Pessl's dark, cinematic and wildly over-the-top new novel, Night Film, starts with a mysterious death: Ashley Cordova, troubled former child prodigy and daughter of mysterious filmmaker Stanislas Cordova, is found dead at the bottom of a disused elevator shaft, an apparent suicide. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath thinks there's more to the case.
In Choire Sicha's Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City, a voice from our future looks back at events taking place in a "massive" East Coast metropolis, its citizens perpetually gripped with "a quiet panic" while living in a gritty landscape of iron and excess. Throw in a mysterious virus, a rich, blind governor, a sketchy mayor campaigning for a third term, and this novel gets even more curious.
Dan Balz, one of the nation's most respected political reporters, has written his review of the last presidential election — what happened and why.
It's called Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America.
The chief correspondent for The Washington Post, Balz is the author of several books, including one on President Obama's first election — The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election — written with Haynes Johnson.
For Robert Pinsky, the pleasure in poetry comes from the music of the language, and not from the meaning of the words. So he put together an anthology of 80 poems that are models by master poets-- from Sappho to Allen Ginsberg, Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson.
Robert Hayden was born in Detroit 100 years ago Sunday. He became the first African-American to receive the honor now known as "poet laureate." Among his most famous works is the collection of short poems called Elegies for Paradise Valley. We hear an excerpt from the collection, as read by the author in 1976.
In the summer of 1969, all eyes were on Los Angeles, where nine people had been murdered. Among the dead was Sharon Tate, a movie star and wife of movie director Roman Polanski. Police said a cult called "The Family" was responsible.
The leader of The Family was the charismatic, ruthless and manipulative Charles Manson. America was captivated by him, and by the young women who, under his spell, had snuck into two houses in Los Angeles to murder people they had never met. The trial was nationally broadcast, and Manson became a household name.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. If you watched "Saturday Night Live" in the 1990s, you might remember this:
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As announcer) And now, deep thoughts by Jack Handey.
JACK HANDEY: Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself, mankind. Basically, it's made up of two separate words: mank and ind. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.
Sixteen years ago, Rob Sheffield had everything going for him. He was young, ambitious, working as a music critic in Charlottesville, Va., and married to the woman he thought he'd spend the rest of his life with.
All that changed suddenly when his wife died of a pulmonary embolism. Sheffield was a widow and not yet 30 years old.
There were many factors that helped him dig himself out of the deep depression that followed: moving to a new city, the simple passage of time. But the most unexpected antidote for his grief came in the form of karaoke.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's latest book is Oleander Girl.
I was about 12 when I first encountered The Moonstone — or a Classics Illustrated version of it — digging through an old trunk in my grandfather's house on a rainy Bengali afternoon. I loved the Classics Illustrated series (the graphic novels of my youth that simplified famous novels for children), presenting us with swashbuckling plotlines, and heroes and villains that were unmistakably, unashamedly, what they were supposed to be.
On-air challenge:This week's puzzle is called "What's in a Name?" Every answer consists of the names of two famous people. The last name of the first person is an anagram of the first name of the last person. Given the non-anagram parts of the names, you identify the people. For example, given "Madeleine" and "Aaron," you would say "Kahn" and "Hank."
Last week's challenge: In three words, name a product sold mainly to women that has the initials N-P-R. The answer is a common phrase.
Sartorial Anarchy #5, 2012. Ike Ude, photographer. In his Sartorial Anarchy self-portraits, New York-based Nigerian-born artist Ike Ude creates composite images of the dandy across geography and chronology. Ude photographs himself in disparate ensembles, pairing, for example, a copy of an 18th-century Macaroni wig with other carefully selected vintage garments and reproductions.
Credit Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums.
In his youth, even before he cavorted with Beau Brummell, the future George IV took liberties in his dress that are particularly evident in this exotic chintz banyan from the 1780s. A quilted and printed loosely cut robe meant for the intimacy of the home environment, the banyan alluded to the mysteries and pleasures of Middle East and Asia.
Credit Erik Gould / RISD Museum
Robert Dighton's 1805 full-length watercolor portrait, seen at right, is the singular extant image of the young George Bryan "Beau" Brummell. It was made during the height of Brummell's social and sartorial prominence within the aristocratic circles of early 19th-century Regency England.
Credit RISD Museum
Publications such as the influential fashion journal Gazette du Bon Ton featured illustrations like this one from 1913 by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, which depicts the life of the flaneur, or the fashionable man on the street.
Credit RISD Museum
In this ensemble, styled by Motofumi "Poggy" Kogi, the Hello Kitty character takes in London's sights and serenely drinks tea amid a whirlwind of pattern and color. A collaboration between Sanrio's Hello Kitty and Liberty of London, the fabric reflects a long history of exchange.
Credit Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery Ike Ude
Sartorial Anarchy #5, 2012. Ike Ude, photographer. In his Sartorial Anarchy self-portraits, New Yorkâbased Nigerian-born artist Ike Ude creates composite images of the dandy across geography and chronology. Ude photographs himself in disparate ensembles, pairing, for example, a copy of an 18th-century Macaroni wig with other carefully selected vintage garments and reproductions.
Credit Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Richard Dighton (1795-1880) was Robert Dighton's son. His 1823 Mirror of Fashion is a panoramic depiction of 53 "dandies of the day."
Credit Jacki Lyden
One of the best outfits at the exhibit wasn't actually part of the show: Museumgoer Aaron Peterman designed and made this suit, with its pattern of legendary drag queens on a sunny yellow background.
When you hear the word dandy, what do you think of?
Maybe the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and compares the colonists to foppish, effeminate idiots: the dandies.
But a summer exhibit at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, closing Aug. 18, aims to reclaim the term. It explores dandyism through the ages, linking to the cutting edge of men's fashion and style. The name of the show is "Artist, Rebel, Dandy: Men of Fashion" — which does still leave you wondering what you might see.
When Robert Klein was a busboy in the Catskills, he saw the best Jewish comedians of the day. From Rodney Dangerfield and Mel Brooks, to comedy in its modern form, Klein was there to see the evolution of what makes us laugh. It made him the perfect person to narrate the documentary that opened this week in New York City, When Comedy Went to School. It's a look back at how many famous comedians got their start by spending their summers in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 9:57 am
This piece discusses plot points in detail from the first four and a half seasons of Breaking Bad, but nothing from the Aug. 11 season premiere.
If television's golden age has taught viewers anything, it is to expect that explosive, violent death is an integral part of serious storytelling. The history of literature and the history of film teach that there are other ways to achieve high stakes. But if you go looking for premium, celebrated television dramas that don't involve a lot of bloody kills, you will narrow your options considerably.