You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. I'm Ophira Eisenberg. Coming up, we'll reminisce about the songs of summer, and we'll take a cinematic tour of New York City. Plus we'll put director David Wain and actor B.J. Novak up to another ASK ME ANOTHER challenge. But first, joining us onstage right now are Allison Kelsey and Sam Denehy.
EISENBERG: Allison, you are joining us from Philadelphia.
With New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz as our V.I.P. Puzzle Guru, we knew he'd come up with a doozy of a final round. In this game, recorded at Central Park's SummerStage, contestants are given two five-letter words, and asked to anagram one word to get a synonym of the second. And when the final two standing turn out to be Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen and Wet Hot American Summer filmmaker David Wain, the competition gets even more heated.
Fresh off the ninth and final season of NBC's The Office, B.J. Novak is keeping busy. He is known both for his portrayal of the bratty temp Ryan Howard, as well as writing some of the show's most beloved episodes, such as "Diversity Day" and "The Fire." In his post-Office life, however, he's working on a book of "Woody Allen-esque" short stories and will appear in Saving Mr. Banks, the forthcoming Walt Disney biopic about the making of the film Mary Poppins.
David Wain is part of the comedy troupes The State and Stella, and directed the films Wanderlust, Role Models and the forthcoming They Came Together. But he is perhaps best known for creating one of the quintessential summer movies, Wet Hot American Summer, an absurdist chronicle of last-day shenanigans at a Jewish camp in the 1980s.
Kurt Andersen has written for film, television and stage, was Time's architecture and design critic, co-founded Spy magazine, curated a Smithsonian exhibit, wrote four books (his third novel, True Believers, was published in the summer of 2012), and now hosts PRI's Studio 360, the Peabody Award-winning radio show on WNYC. In the words of Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg, "How about declaring a major already?"
Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can — and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments — and their neighbors.
Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi are the human co-pilots who mind-meld to control the giant Jaegers — massive robots engineered to fight rampaging sea monsters — in Pacific Rim, a kaiju-film homage from director Guillermo del Toro.
The simple pleasures of watching Godzilla or Ultraman doing battle on Saturday afternoon television have proved difficult to re-create since their heyday in the '70s and '80s. Big-budget Hollywood attempts to replicate the experience tend to not just be failures, but disastrous, highly polished failures on an epic scale: Roland Emmerich's 1998 take on Godzilla, for instance, or Michael Bay's Transformers series.
Take It Or Leave It: The legalese you accept when you use Facebook or iTunes (or NPR's digital platforms) may have you agreeing to some surprising things. Cullen Hoback's documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply illustrates just how many — and just how much control we've obligingly signed away.
Credit Variance Films
Irish tourist Leigh Bryan (left), here with director Cullen Hoback, sent a tweet to a friend before a U.S. vacation, joking that he intended to have a few drinks and "destroy America." As he tells it in Terms and Conditions, immigration authorities were less than amused.
Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 11:06 am
I'm 45, single, substantially in debt and way too susceptible to jokes about redheads. And I'm telling you these things upfront because ... why not? It wouldn't be all that hard for you — or your Big Brother — to find out.
Augusta Scattergood was in the fifth grade when she decided she wanted to become a librarian. She now reviews books for magazines and websites, including Delta Magazine and The Christian Science Monitor. Glory Be is her first novel.
In July, NPR's Backseat Book Club traveled to Hanging Moss, Miss., where Gloriana June Hemphill, better known as Glory, is just an ordinary little girl. But this is no ordinary summer — it's 1964 and the town has shut down the so-called "community" swimming pool to avoid integration.
Lukas works in a Danish kindergarten, and it's clear he's in the right place: When the kids look at him, they see a great big toy.
That's especially true for 5-year-old Klara, the lonely daughter of Lukas' best friend, Theo. Klara's folks fight a lot, and her teenage brother is too busy looking at dirty pictures with his buddies to pay her much attention.
Is it the summer of Shakespearean comedy? You might not guess it from the box-office grosses, but with the release of Joss Whedon's delightful Much Ado About Nothingand now Matias Piñeiro's wondrous Viola, the spirit, if not the strict content, of Shakespeare's less bloody-mindedplays is sneaking into theaters, offering an invaluable lesson to other films in how to be lighthearted without being empty-headed.
Improbably or not, Salma Hayek (left) and Adam Sandler (far right) are a couple again in Grown Ups 2. Billed as a comedy, the film also features Kevin James, Alexys Nicole Sanchez, Chris Rock, Maria Bello and David Spade, who in this scene are all pretending to laugh at something that in all likelihood involves poo.
Two decades ago, when stupid Hollywood comedies were relatively smart, they lampooned their own sequelitis with titles like Hot Shots! Part Deux. The genre has become less knowing since then, so the follow-up to 2010's Grown Ups is named simply Grown Ups 2.
Grown Ups Minus 2 would be more apt.
Like its predecessor, this is a vehicle for Adam Sandler, his pals and whatever they think they can get away with. That means some creepy sexual insinuations, if not so many as the first time.
Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, an Oakland man with a checkered past and a new determination to get his life right — until one terrible night at Fruitvale Station.
Credit Cait Adkins / The Weinstein Co.
Oscar's interactions with 4-year-old daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal) help layer Ryan Coogler's warm portrait of a family that's seen its share of upheavals, but that's solid nonetheless — until tragedy intervenes.
Fruitvale Station, on the Oakland side of the San Francisco Bay: Grainy cellphone video from a day, four years ago, that commanded the nation's attention. Several young black men sit on a transit station platform, white transit police officers standing over them. There's shouting, scuffling, but nothing that looks worrisome.
Now 43 years old, Jay-Z has become the Jay Gatsby of hip-hop: a man with a checkered background playing host to endless parties, celebrating excellence, the good life and himself. It's no wonder that he was asked to oversee the music for director Baz Luhrmann's amusement park ride version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's romantic fantasy.
Editor's Note: This post is part of All Things Considered's Found Recipes project.
Although Heinz may dominate the ketchup scene, 100 years ago it wasn't uncommon to make your own at home. So why bother doing so now, when you can just buy the bottles off the shelf? At least one man, Jim Ledvinka, was motivated by nostalgia.
"Oh, yes — we remember my grandmother making ketchup. And it was quite a sight to behold," Ledvinka says.
The new film Fruitvale Station tells the true story of a young, unarmed black man who was shot and killed by an Oakland, Calif., transit police officer early on New Year's Day 2009. The death of Oscar Grant sparked days of riots and unrest in Oakland, and lots of conversations about relationships between citizens and the police. Fruitvale Station follows the 24 hours leading up to the shooting. The film won critical acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival, taking home the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It opens in select theaters on July 12.
Despite the fact that it's been generating a lot of buzz, Devious Maids is just not that interesting. Five Latina maids — is it a landmark for Latina actresses or another example of how the media stereotype Latinos? Either way, the relationship between hypersexualized domestic workers and their pretentious employers does not make for compelling television.
Confessional cartoon chronicler Jeffrey Brown's new autobiographical work, A Matter of Life, will sit next to Craig Thompson's Blankets as one of the most touching and wise graphic memoirs we have about growing up in a religious household and grappling with faith.
This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.
Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.
American artist Ellsworth Kelly turned 90 in May, and there's been much celebration. On Wednesday, President Obama presented Kelly with the National Medal of Arts. Meanwhile, museums around the country are showing his work: Kelly sculptures, prints and paintings are on view in New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. In Washington, D.C., the Phillips Collection is featuring his flat geometric canvases, layered to create wall sculptures.
Mexican homicide detective Marco Ruiz (played by Demián Bichir) must work with his American counterpart, Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), to solve a murder on the U.S.-Mexico border in FX's new series The Bridge.
The U.S.-Mexico border plays a starring role in the new FX series The Bridge.
Characters in the television crime drama, which premieres Wednesday night, regularly cross back and forth through the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The show's dialogue also frequently switches between English and Spanish, setting a new standard for bilingual drama on American television.
Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 10:56 am
We have to confess: When we heard that Twinkies will have nearly double the shelf life, 45 days, when they return to stores next week, our first reaction was — days? Not years?
Urban legend has long deemed Twinkies the cockroaches of the snack food world, a treat that can survive for decades, what humanity would have left to eat come the apocalypse. The true shelf life — which used to be 26 days — seems somewhat less impressive by comparison.
On the day after the Supreme Court concluded its epic term in June, two of the supreme judicial antagonists, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, met over a mutual love: opera.
When it comes to constitutional interpretation, the conservative Scalia and the liberal Ginsburg are leaders of the court's two opposing wings. To make matters yet more interesting, the two have been friends for decades, since long before Scalia was named to the court by President Reagan and Ginsburg by President Clinton.
When novelist Kate Christensen was just a toddler, she witnessed her father beating her mother. It was a scene that would haunt Christensen for decades.
And so it's with a description of that morning that she chooses to begin her memoir Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites. The book that unfolds is an examination of the reverberations of her father's violence in her life, and a meditation on how her love of food helped her cope.
As a child, she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, she refused to identify with her mother in the scenario.