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.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. Since 2000, the Third Coast International Audio Festival has been curating some of the best audio stories from around the world. One of the submission categories is: short documentaries. These are pieces no longer than three minutes. This year's theme for short docs was: appetite. Joining us from member station WBEZ in Chicago to talk about the winners is Third Coast's artistic director Julie Shapiro. Hey, Julie.
Dear Guy Pearce: The Jack Irish stubble is working, though we're not feeling the giant butterfly art. We assume it's in a hoodlum's house, not Jack's, but we'll be watching this weekend just to confirm.
With Linda still out at the TCA gathering, TV is much on our minds. And as she noted yesterday, there's a whole big conversation going on about the newer modes of consuming what we still, for lack of a better word, generally call television.
(Actually, we probably don't need a better word, as "television" just means "far-sight" and doesn't have anything to do with broadcast or spectrum or modes of transmission or the technology involved, BUT I DIGRESS.)
On the Noodle Road is one attempt to answer an old chestnut: Did Marco Polo really bring noodles from China to Italy? If not, where did they really come from? Or — to put it another way — from what point along the storied byways of the Silk Road did that humble paste of flour and water first spring into its multifarious existence?
Mike Odette, chef and co-owner of Sycamore Restaurant in Columbia, Mo., is trolling the local farmer's market. He usually hunts for ingredients for his next menu, but today he's searching for veggies to take on a picnic.
A slaw using creamy mayonnaise might spoil in the summer heat. So Odette favors a simple summer vinaigrette that's equal parts cider vinegar and sugar. He recommends making it the night before.
"It benefits from sitting in the refrigerator overnight," he says, "so the flavors can develop, and you could even dress your slaw on your picnic."
There are plenty of small-town guys who stick around, get a boring job and dream of writing a great novel. And nothing ticks off those guys like the ones who actually pull it off: Charles Frazier's first novel, Cold Mountain, was an international best-seller, and he followed it up with Thirteen Moons and Nightwoods.
Here in Asheville, N.C., we've invited Frazier to play a game called "I'm listening, Seattle." Three questions for Charles Frazier about Frasier Crane, fictional radio psychiatrist.
Our Children, a quietly devastating Belgian domestic drama, opens with a shattered young woman on an IV drip. Then the action moves swiftly back to that same woman, radiantly in love and eager to tell Andre, the man her beloved calls father, that she's planning to marry his boy.
To mark the final season of the TV show Breaking Bad, we've based this game on its opening credits, in which elemental symbols for Bromine (Br) and Barium (Ba) help spell the show's title. House musician Jonathan Coulton asks contestants to spell words using more symbols from the Periodic Table.
Plus, Coulton competes this round with a cover of "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants.
Now we're going to crown this week's grand champion. Let's bring back from Breaking It Down, Avidan Ackerson. From Generically Speaking, Erin Barker. From Algebraic Music, Diane Firstman. From Real Housewives, John Rennie. And from Hollywood Formulas Chris Kairalla.
EISENBERG: I want to ask our puzzle guru John Chaneski to take us out and crown a winner.
"I started making up questions for myself that I didn't know the answer to, just for the fun of getting back into that euphoric feeling of being puzzled and wanting to solve it." — Steven Strogatz, on how his habits changed after solving a challenging word problem in grade school
If there's actually a secret Hollywood movie formula, we want to see the proof. In a game that will take you right back to your beloved high school algebra and geometry classes, host Ophira Eisenberg asks contestants to combine the titles of well-known movies with mathematical terms. For example, "Rectangled" combines the polygon "rectangle" with the title of the film Tangled.
What's your favorite franchise of Bravo's Real Housewives, Atlanta or New Jersey? How about The Acropolis? In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg stirs up the celestial domestic drama by performing imagined on-camera quotes from female Greek mythological figures. Can you guess the goddess?
Plus, Jonathan Coulton pays homage to another powerful lady with a cover of Bananarama's "Venus."
Don't freak out, but this game combines one part name-that-tune, one part doing-math-in-your-head, and a dash of The Proclaimers. It'll be fun, we promise. House musician Jonathan Coulton performs songs that feature a number in their titles, but the numbers have been replaced by algebraic expressions. Contestants must solve for 'x' to make the mathematical expressions in the songs correct.
When you hear the phrase, "I need a Band-Aid immediately!" is your instinct to reply, "Actually, it's called an 'adhesive bandage,' Band-Aid is a brand"? Don't be that person--unless you're playing along with this game. Host Ophira Eisenberg offers the generic name and description of a particular product, and you must name the specific trademarked name that commonly describes it.
When you check social media and you're not caught up on your favorite TV show, say, you never know when you might encounter a spoiler. Somebody on Twitter, some blog says too much about what happened in a plot line. My big spoiler moment came when I saw a post about a death on "Downton Abbey" and I thought that everything was just ruined. But is it really that bad when this happens? NPR's Neda Ulaby has this encore story about how spoilers might actually make you enjoy something more.
Hypermacho but tongue-in-cheek, the first 20 minutes of 2 Guns are enormous fun. Tough guys Bobby and Stig (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) bicker and flirt — with a pretty diner waitress, and with each other — while casing a small-town Texas bank.
Then they set the diner on fire, don masks, and knock over the bank for $43 million, all while taking care to save any cops from getting hurt and even kissing an available baby. The heist, it would seem, has gone according to plan. Yet something's a little off.
Writer-director Fernando Trueba certainly isn't earning points for his original premise in The Artist and the Model, which tells the story of an elderly French artist at the end of World War II who suffers from a creative block until the arrival of a young muse fuels a late-career resurgence.
In space, not many people can hear you scream. In fact, traveling in a manned spacecraft is probably a bit like working on a soundproof movie set — which is plainly where Europa Report was shot.
Tricked up with split screens and digital-video glitchery, this low-budget sci-fi saga emphasizes the claustrophobia and monotony of a long journey beyond Earth's gravity. But it also borrows gambits from horror movies, withholding information and eliminating characters one by one.
* Having seen Cate Blanchett's electric Blanche DuBois, and had a public pretend-squabble with our own Bob Mondello about it, I felt like I was all up in Charles McNulty's head when I read his take on Blue Jasmine. [The Los Angeles Times]
When Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop talk about preparing food on the public TV series America's Test Kitchen, they're really good at explaining why the recipe works. Bishop is the editorial director of the show, and Lancaster is the lead instructor of its cooking school. They've both contributed to the new America's Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook. They join Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about preparing summer foods, and to answer some cooking questions from the Fresh Air staff.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now we want to tell you about a new TV program that's hoping to bring new relevance to TV talk. The show is called "Exhale," it's on the ASPiRE network. That's a television network created by NBA legend Magic Johnson, to serve primarily African-American viewers. On the show, a panel of accomplished women talk about everything from health and fitness to sex and relationships.
When writer Chris Grabenstein plots his mysteries, the murders happen in the corny nooks of New Jersey's Jersey shore. After all, there's something delightfully cheesy about a beach town.
"I guess I'm a cheesy guy. I like this kind of stuff," Grabenstein says. "Ever since I was a kid I loved tourist towns."
The author points out shop names as we walk along his stretch of the shore. There's the Sunglass Menagerie, an ice cream shop called Do Me A Flavor, Shore Good Donuts and How You Brewin' coffee. I'll spare you the rest — Long Beach Island has 18 miles of this stuff.
Carnegie ultimately gave away $60 million to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country. "In bestowing charity the main consideration should be to help those who help themselves," he wrote.
Credit Library of Congress
The Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., dates back to 1903. Paul Dickson, author of The Library in America, says this library was "one of the first really beautiful public buildings" in the city.
Credit Library of Congress
Patrons in the reading room of the Carnegie Library of Homestead in Munhall, Pa., circa 1900. The Carnegie Steel Co.fought back against striking steel workers in Homestead in 1892. Click here to see a larger view of this image.
Credit Hulton Archive / Getty Images
As a teen, Andrew Carnegie worked as a bobbin boy in a textile mill and was determined to improve his lot in life. Above, Carnegie as a young man in 1868.
Andrew Carnegie was once the richest man in the world. Coming as a dirt poor kid from Scotland to the U.S., by the 1880s he'd built an empire in steel — and then gave it all away: $60 million to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country.
Carnegie donated $300,000 to build Washington, D.C.'s oldest library — a beautiful beaux arts building that dates back to 1903. Inscribed above the doorway are the words: Science, Poetry, History. The building was "dedicated to the diffusion of knowledge."
At first, all John Milkovisch wanted in 1968 was a covered patio where he could drink his beer at the end of the day. But a bigger idea was brewing. For years, he had been saving his empty beer cans.
"While I was building the patio I was drinking the beer," he said in an interview in 1983. "I knew I was going to do something with them aluminum cans because that was what I was looking for ... but I didn't know what I was going to do." (Milkovisch died in 1988.)