Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:43 am
I'll say this for Neil LaBute: The man sticks to his guns. Critics may carp about his sour vision of human nature, but he keeps plugging away at his micro-studies of the cruel struggle for interpersonal domination.
LaBute is a master of stagecraft, of course; I'm not sure why he works in film at all, other than to broaden his audience. Aside from the substantially more cinematic Nurse Betty, almost all of his movies are essentially stage plays, ably transposed to the screen but with minimal concession to the switch in medium.
In 2009, snowboarder Kevin Pearce was riding high, soaring skyward, twisting his body into breathtaking acrobatics. He was 22, one of the world's top halfpipe riders, and a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
If you ask the Coen brothers about how they write their films, you might not get a straight answer. "It's mostly napping," Ethan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
"We go to the office, we're there, we're in a room together," Joel adds. "We take naps, but, you know, the important thing is that we're at the office, should we be inspired to actually write something."
The brothers don't split up writing responsibilities — they "talk through" the dialogue and "work it out together," Joel explains.
And for many of us, the week will kick off the final round of holiday parties. And that's the time for connecting with friends, celebrating the season and, in some cases, really messing up. So here to help us keep our holiday parties happy and faux pas free is Harriette Cole. She writes the nationally syndicated advice column "Sense and Sensitivity." Harriette Cole, welcome back. Thanks so much for joining us once again.
HARRIETTE COLE: Great to be with you. Happy holidays.
"A Visit from St. Nicholas," popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," is a favorite poem among many who celebrate Christmas. But when it comes to holiday verse, why should Dec. 25 get all the attention?
In this final round, puzzle guru Art Chung re-titles other holiday films with some less festive words. The titles have been rewritten as synonyms of the original titles. For example, The Section of a Contract About the Spanish Word for Saint is the rewritten title for The Santa Clause. (It should be noted that we are using "synonym" quite loosely.)
Did you know that every Dec. 7, Guatemalans gather trash from their homes into a giant pile, throw an effigy of the devil on top and then light it on fire? This practice, known as "the burning of the devil," may sound a bit far-fetched, but it's actually true.
Ophira Eisenberg, host of Ask Me Another, grew up Jewish, but maintained an obsession with Santa Claus. Hear Eisenberg share a story about her first childhood encounter with Father Christmas, at a shopping mall in Canada.
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Prepare to answer a child's age-old question during road trips. Given a starting point and a list of three destination cities by host Ophira Eisenberg, a phone contestant must put the cities in order of driving distance from the starting point, from shortest to longest. If you left New York after a visit to the Empire State Building and drove west, which city would be the closest: Cleveland, Chicago, or Seattle?
At Ask Me Another, we're no strangers to messing with tradition, especially in the form of song. Instead of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," how about "Rockin' Around the Big Blue Sea"? House musician Jonathan Coulton performs some classic holiday tunes with the lyrics rewritten to be about famous people or fictional characters named Chris, like Christopher Columbus or Christina Aguilera. For what it's worth, we're also including names that can be shortened to Chris.
Ah, the sounds of the holidays: Jingle bells. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The sound of reindeer landing on the roof. Or are those zombies with chains about to attack? Hopefully you have a keen ear for this game. Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg welcomed back Lizz Winstead, comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show, as a Very Important Puzzler. We pitted her against a contestant in a game in which they had to reproduce sound effects and music.
If singing holiday songs isn't your thing, would a carol about Las Vegas or La Toya Jackson change your mind? House musician Jonathan Coulton spices up the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls" with the lyrics rewritten to describe words or names that begin with a "la" sound. What do you call smoked salmon on a bagel? Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-lox!
After the game, Coulton used his clues and the contestants' answers to produce a gloriously weird recording of "Deck The Halls." Hear it in the web extra on this page.
When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses.
But now, there's a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.
Writer-director Spike Jonze's latest movie, called simply Her, is about a lonely man who falls in love ... with his operating system. The two lovers — Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) — never meet face to face. In fact Samantha has no face, not even an avatar.
"I have a host of memories which I see very clearly," actor Peter O'Toole told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1993. "And though I'm very aware of the tricks of memory, I'm also aware of the concrete nature of these brilliantly lit pictures in my mind. They're ineradicable."
O'Toole, who died Saturday at the age of 81, was instrumental in making many "brilliantly lit pictures" for movie lovers during his decades-spanning career. Nominated for eight Oscars, the tall, blond, blue-eyed actor captivated audiences, on-screen and onstage.
Tell Me More goes behind closed doors to look at the increasingly open debate about how the sexuality of girls and women is being discussed on Twitter.
Parks and Recreation actress Rashida Jones recently got social media going with her Twitter takedown of a number of female pop stars for their hyper-sexual performances. She called on these stars to #stopactinglikewhores.
Blond, blue-eyed and wearing blazing white robes in Lawrence Of Arabia, Peter O'Toole was handsome enough — many said beautiful enough — to carry off the scene in which director David Lean simultaneously made stars of both his title character and his leading man.
Kansas City residents are proud of their barbecue, their Chiefs football, their national champion soccer team and Boulevard Brewing, a local brewery that has built up quite a local following since its launch in the late 1980s.
"It's our thing. You know, like la cosa nostra, it's our thing," says Char O'Hara, a Kansas City, Mo., resident who, like thousands of other local 20-somethings, grew up with Boulevard.
But soon, it will be a Belgian thing, too. Any day now, Belgian beer maker Duvel is expected to finalize its purchase of the Kansas City brewery.
Peter O'Toole, the Hollywood legend who was made famous in his title role in Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday in a London hospital. The 81-year old Irishman was nominated for eight Oscars in his distinguished career, and was known as a bit of a hellraiser.
To those who hadn't seen the actor perform on the London stage, O'Toole was seemingly catapulted into fame. But it may be more accurate to say he charged into it. As T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole was tall, handsome and sensitive.
Fans of the writer Paul Auster know an enormous amount about him. His novels often draw on autobiographical details, and he has written five books that are explicitly about his own life.
Last year, he published a memoir called Winter Journal that tells the story of his life through the story of his own body — every scar and blemish. Now Auster has published a companion autobiography of his intellectual self, called Report from the Interior.
So, those are the fabulous soirees of fiction, but what about those lower-brow shindigs - the parties on our favorite TV shows that we'd love to crash? There is, of course, Elaine's epic dance fail at her office party on "Seinfeld."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW)
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: (as Elaine) All right. Who's dancing? Come on, who's dancing? Want me to get it started?
If you've listened to NPR much over the past decade, you've heard StoryCorps conversations; those intimate interviews between two people that make you as a listener feel like you've been invited in to witness something special transpire. Dave Isay is the man behind StoryCorps. And he and his team have collected over 50,000 interviews over the years. The next iteration of the storytelling project is a book. It's called "Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps."
Each year, millions of people from different faiths make religious journeys. They travel far, to Mecca, Jerusalem, the Ganges River or Lourdes, France, to walk the paths of prophets, saints and martyrs.
"Pilgrimage is something built into the human condition," says George Weigel, author of Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches. "There seems to be something hardwired into us, spiritually, that the idea of a journey from A to B becomes part of the rhythm of the spiritual life."
The princess industry is lucrative: DVDs, dresses, crowns, theme parties. But the story of going to the ball and waiting for Prince Charming is outdated.
So one Southern California mom has created a new princess series with modern sensibilities. Creator Setsu Shigematsu recasts princesses as environmentally conscious and not waiting around to be rescued.
At the heart of her series, The Guardian Princess Alliance, is what animates any fairy tale: simple storytelling.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a five-letter word. You'll be given a clue for the word. Besides giving you a direct hint to the answer, the clue will also contain the answer in consecutive letters. For example, given "push over hard," you would say "shove."
I came to Amis late. I wasn't born when he published his most esteemed book, Money, and I was a 4-year-old with no great passion for Holocaust novels when Time's Arrow was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Amis has always divided critics (all writers worth their salt do), and by the time I read him in the late-noughties the naysayers were beginning to form a grumbling consensus. I quickly found that loving Amis meant having to fight his corner.