Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:24 am
Are you streaming music right now? If you're in America's Pacific region, there's a much better chance you're nodding along with Cat Power rather than grooving to Fantasia, which you'd be more likely to be doing if you were across the country in the South Atlantic. Those observations come from a map titled "Regionalisms in U.S. Listening Preferences."
Lorrie Moore isn't quite a household name. This was news to me, because I thought that, given that she's the kind of writer who's published in The New Yorker and profiled in The New York Times, most culture vultures would know who she is. But, over the past couple of weeks when I mentioned her new book, Bark, in conversations, both in the halls of academe and over meals with friends, I mostly got blank stares. (One smarty confused her with that other great literary "Lorrie" — the late Laurie Colwin — whose short stories and novels are also essential reading.)
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 9:02 am
The history of doughnuts is intrinsically linked to the celebration of Mardi Gras. "Fat Tuesday" — the Christian day of revelry and indulgence before the austere season of Lent — features dough deep-fried in fat as its main staple.
There are eight stories in Lorrie Moore's new collection, but only two of them really stand out. Moore's one of the country's most admired writers – and maybe I was so dazzled by the brilliance and power of the two longest stories in these pages that I couldn't read the other pieces — which I found either a little off-kilter or too subtly played — without feeling a certain amount of loss. But my possibly cock-eyed view of Bark is that it's a book, or at least half a book, that anyone who loves contemporary fiction should have a go at.
If it seems like male authors get more attention, there are hard numbers to back that up: The VIDA count.
VIDA is a women's literary organization, and the "count" is the result of eight months spent tracking gender disparity in leading publications. VIDA tallies the gender of authors whose books are being reviewed as well as the gender of those doing the reviewing.
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 8:28 am
What is it about comedians itching to get between the covers — book covers, that is? Annabelle Gurwitch's I See You Made An Effort, a seriously funny collection of essays about teetering over the edge of 50, makes it clear that the draw isn't strictly literary. To tweak Peter Steiner's classic New Yorker cartoon: On the page, nobody knows how old you are.
The singer and songwriter Beck is considered one of the most innovative artists of his generation. This week, he released "Morning Phase," his first new album in six years. Critic Tom Moon says the new record returns back to the brooding pop of 2002's "Sea Change," which many consider his best work.
A fireboat sits amid ruins and debris on the piers at Black Tom Island in Jersey City, N.J., on July 30, 1916. Evidence pointed to German sabotage. In <em>Dark Invasion,</em> Howard Blum explores Germany's spy network and sabotage efforts in the U.S. at the beginning of World War I.
Howard Blum is a former investigative reporter for<em> The New York Times </em>who's now a contributing editor at<em> Vanity Fair.</em>
In the early years of World War I, as many as 1,000 American horses per day were shipped off to Europe to assist in the Allied war effort, even though the United States was officially neutral. Those horses became the target of germ warfare, infected with anthrax cultures on American soil; at the same time, mysterious explosions were rocking U.S. munitions factories, and fires were breaking out on ships headed to Europe.
Comedy actor, writer and director Harold Ramis is best known for the 1984 film Ghostbusters, which he co-wrote and starred in along with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Ramis had co-written and planned to star in the long-awaited Ghostbusters III — but did not get the chance. Ramis died Monday in Chicago from an autoimmune disorder. He was 69 years old.
Ramis co-wrote Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes. He co-wrote and directedCaddyshack and directed Murray in Groundhog Day.
The best thing about late-night TV can also be the trickiest.
On the fringes of TV's big stage, shows airing after midnight can be a home for invention; a place where quirky personalities and developing talent can try things with the potential for massive success or demoralizing failure with relatively low stakes.
That history — and its potential for greatness — may be one reason why Seth Meyers' funny, well-paced, completely professional debut Monday as the new host of NBC's 12:35 a.m. Late Night show nevertheless left me a little underwhelmed.
Researcher danah boyd is obsessed with how teenagers use the Internet. For the legions of adults who are worried about them, that's a good thing.
With a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley, and a masters from MIT, and as a senior researcher with Microsoft, boyd is something of a star in the world of social media. For her new book It's Complicated, she spent about eight years studying teenagers and how they interact online. She says she wrote the book in part to help parents, educators and journalists relax. "The kids are all right," she says.
A few years ago, Morning Editioninterviewed President Obama at the White House. At the time, it was a major news story, but there was another story going on behind the scenes.
Madhulika Sikka, now the executive editor of NPR News, had accompanied the team to the White House, and while NPR's Steve Inskeep was talking to the president, Sikka was waiting on a phone call from her doctor. She had been warned a few days before that the news might not be good.
<em>Ghostbusters, </em>starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, was one of Ramis' many successful comedies. The writer, director, actor and producer died Monday; he had co-written and planned to star in the long-awaited <em>Ghostbusters III</em>.
Credit Corus Entertainment / Sony Pictures
Ramis, shown here in Chicago in 2009, died of complications related to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
Credit Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images for The Second City
Sure, you can try doing your Internet browsing this way, but we can't promise that it will help you protect your personal data online.
Angwin spent 13 years as a reporter for the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>. She <a href="http://www.propublica.org/site/author/julia_angwin">now writes</a> for the independent news organization ProPublica.
Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. "It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month ... and I was amazed at how revealing they were," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.
Actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah was born in Britain to immigrant parents from Grenada. His dad worked as a factory worker and his mother worked three jobs to send him to private school in the hope he would become a lawyer. "She wanted me to contribute to the upliftment of my community," he tells NPR's Michel Martin.
In 2003, he became the first black Briton to stage a play in London's prestigious West End theater district with his award-winning piece "Elmina's Kitchen." The play tackled gun crime, displacement and racism in East London.
Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:22 pm
NPR Books and Code Switch are winding down Black History Month in style: We've asked three of our favorite comic artists to illustrate something — a person, a poem, a play, a book, a song — that inspires them. Afua Richardson is an award-winning illustrator who's worked for Image, Marvel and DC Comics. She's chosen Langston Hughes' great poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." And you can see Richardson's video, created from these panels, here.
Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 8:01 pm
It's hard to take not one but two genres that are typically thought of as staples of old-fashioned "media for women" – the advice column and the collection of household hints – and make them feel at all relevant to women now, who may or may not have time for all the fussing that perfect housekeeping ideally entails and may or may not live lives in which it's their responsibility, or their priority.
[This piece contains information about the plot of Downton Abbey, up to and including Sunday night's fourth-season finale.]
Another season of Downton Abbey has come to a close, and once again, Lady Edith is unlucky. Unlucky in love, unlucky in life. She's unluckier than Bates, and he went to jail for something he didn't do, for what certainly felt like a really, really long time. She's unluckier than Matthew, and he's quite deceased.
Leah Vincent is a board member of <a href="http://footstepsorg.org/about.php">Footsteps</a> and co-producer of the <a href="http://getsbesser.com/">It Gets Besser</a> project, both of which help support people who have decided to leave ultra-Orthodoxy.
Leah Vincent was born into the Yeshivish community, an ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, in Pittsburgh.
"Yeshivish Judaism life is defined by religious law," Vincent tells NPR's Arun Rath. "We keep extra-strict laws of kosher, observe the Sabbath every week, maintain a separation of the sexes and a degree of isolation from the outside world."
When she was 16, she was caught exchanging letters with a male friend. Contact with men is forbidden in her sect, and she was cast out from her community.
Book fans can be pretty picky about how Hollywood treats their favorite reads. And Hollywood can sometimes disappoint. Marc Helprin's "Winter's Tale" has been a favorite of readers since it was published in 1983. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has a review of how well it works as a movie.
Kinder Than Solitude, the latest novel from Chinese-American author Yiyun Li, examines the impact of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on a generation of youth. Following three friends, the novel alternates between 1990s Beijing and present-day America, where two of the friends immigrated. At the heart of the story is the mysterious murder that brought the three friends together over 20 years ago, and what they're only now learning about it.
Adam Bakri plays a Palestinian baker recruited as an informant by the Israeli secret service in the Oscar-nominated film <em>Omar.</em>
Credit Adopt Films
Hany Abu-Assad's 2005 drama <em>Paradise Now</em> centered on two Palestinian militants preparing for a suicide attack in Tel Aviv; it was the first Palestinian film nominated in the foreign-language Oscar category.
Omar is a young Palestinian baker who often climbs the Israeli-built security barrier that divides his hometown — to visit his secret Israeli love, Nadia. After he's arrested and accused of the murder of an Israeli soldier, he starts working as an informant for Shin Bet, the Israeli secret service; it's a dangerous game Omar plays, one that brings trust, love and friendship into question.
On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a famous person with four letters in his or her first name and four letters in the last. For each person, you'll be given initials and an anagram of the full name. You name the person.
Last week's challenge: Name a famous entertainer: two words, four letters in each word. You can rearrange these eight letters to spell the acronym of a well-known national organization, and the word that the first letter of this acronym stands for. Who's the entertainer, and what's the organization?