It's been more than two and a half years since we last did a show packed with recommendations of pop culture (and other culture) for kids. We figured it was about time to do it again, for reasons we'll get into in the episode, so here we are.
When you hear the phrase, "writing guide," unpleasant things may spring to mind: sentence diagrams or even — shudder to think — your high school textbook.
Now, imagine the exact opposite, and you might get Jeff VanderMeer's Wonderbook. It's a writing guide, sure, but it's unlikely you've seen one like this before. Misbegotten fish serve as models for revision. Dragons butt in from the margins to contradict lessons. There's even a talking penguin — but don't get him started on what he thinks of the duck.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 2:33 pm
"When the war is over, we can debate the morality of what we do."
This sentiment, expressed by Harrison Ford's gruff Col. Hyrum Graff, pretty accurately sums up what director and screenwriter Gavin Hood is trying to do in his adaptation of the widely read 1985 sci-fi novel Ender's Game.
Keanu Reeves' directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, is basically the anti-Kill Bill. Both movies are quilted together from their auteurs' favorite Asian action flicks, but where Tarantino's was overheated, Reeves' is elegantly iced. It's martial-arts mayhem with a touch of zen.
The Exorcist was the story of one girl's demonic possession and the priest who saved her. It was engaging, terrifying and masterful — and it gave new meaning to the phrase "a real head-turner."
William Peter Blatty wrote the screenplay, adapting his own best-selling book. The film starred Ellen Burstyn and a very young Linda Blair — barely 12 years old when shooting began. William Friedkin, who had recently won an Academy Award for The French Connection, was the director.
Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 4:16 pm
In a certain region of the Missouri Ozarks called Devil's Promenade, there are tales of a "spook light." According to local accounts, it's a mysterious orb-like light that appears in the woods — but only on chance nights. And, as many local legends are, this one is shrouded in mystery: Is the spook light real? What is it? Is it evil? Is it good?
Welcome, all you ghosts and goblins! Welcome, all you cats and princesses! Welcome, Iron Man Under That Down Jacket! Welcome, Werewolf Whose Mom Is On The Phone!
I am pleased to see you at my door. I welcome always the young people in whose vicinity I reside, provided they are not so old that they pause before picking up their candy to put down a lit cigarette, which really happened to my parents once. (I will be using that anecdote in my upcoming book, Signs That You Have Outgrown Trick-Or-Treating.)
It's Halloween again, and now that we know there will be no Game 7 of the World Series, that leaves you an open evening to enjoy running back and forth to the door to drop tiny Snickers bars into plastic bags carried by children dressed as superheroes.
But this strange ritual is not the evening's only appropriate entertainment. Perhaps you just want to scare the pants off yourself. Perhaps you just want a Scary Movie Night. Fortunately, with the proliferation of distribution methods for films both scary and less so, you've got plenty of options.
Shake things up in our nation's capital with one of D.C.'s music legends. In this hour, recorded at the NPR Headquarters in Washington, our Very Important Puzzler is the prolific and outspoken Ian MacKaye. The front man of the D.C. punk bands Fugazi and Minor Threat shares tales from the road, and muses about what "punk" means today. Plus, try out your best Nicolas Cage impression, play a game that asks you to create new company names after imagined big-time mergers and search for National treasures.
If you are prone to motion sickness on roller coasters, have no fear — the only twists and turns in this game led by host Ophira Eisenberg are in the clues. All of the answers are words that contain double "ee"s, just like the word you would say when you're on a ride: "whee!" For example, the Fox television series that features students competing in a cappella choir competitions is "Gleeeeee!"
House musician Jonathan Coulton decided to get a little patriotic for our stop in the nation's capital. He performs a rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," in which you must salute famous individuals with the initials "D.C." Glory, glory, David Caruso!
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Thirty years after launching his music career, what does it mean for Ian MacKaye to be a punk rocker? In the 1980s, MacKaye rebelled against popular culture as the front man of the influential D.C. punk bands Minor Threat and Fugazi, and founded his own label, Dischord Records. These days, he maintains the label and plays in a more stripped-down outfit, The Evens, with his wife, Amy Farina.
In this final round, led by puzzle guru Art Chung, contestants are given the names of two actors who have played the same role in different movies, and they must name the character. For example, Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro both played Vito Corleone from The Godfather trilogy. Who was a more convincing mob boss? We'll let you figure that out on your own.
Throughout his career as a musician, Ian MacKaye has played, listened to and analyzed countless hours of music. But how will he fare in our version of "Name That Tune"? In this Ask Me Another Challenge, MacKaye teams up with Stephen Thompson, NPR Music Editor and co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, to identify punk songs performed acoustically by house musician Jonathan Coulton.
In this game led by host Ophira Eisenberg, you get to become a corporate executive. Trust us, it's way more fun than board meetings and conference calls. We merge two well-known businesses, and it's up to you to create the new company's name. For example, if the company that prepares one in every six U.S. tax returns merged with a struggling video rental company, they would form H&R Blockbuster, which is a combination of H&R Block and Blockbuster
We hope you've been practicing your Nicolas Cage impression, or have seen his 2004 action thriller National Treasure. In this game, you must name famous items found in the Smithsonian Museum's collection, as described by house musician Jonathan Coulton. We encourage you to answer in the style of Cage's immortal line, "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence."
I love me some fun-size Almond Joys, and pumpkin carving is a tragically under-sung creative outlet. But my favorite Halloween tradition comes in the form of a kid's movie starring Bette Midler in a set of fake buck teeth: Walt Disney's 1993 cult classic, Hocus Pocus.
Neil Gaiman started writing the Sandman comic books 25 years ago. Since then, he's written acclaimed fantasy novels, children's books and screenplays — but the pale, star-eyed Lord of Dreams remains one of his most beloved characters. Over the course of 75 issues, the series captivated fans and critics alike.
Problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act have been all over the news — and the not-quite news. Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart has been one news-ish outlet that hasn't been too kind in its coverage.
NPR TV critic Eric Deggans spoke with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish about why negative coverage on The Daily Show might be worse for the Obama administration than negative coverage on the nightly news.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 2:15 pm
Poetry is important. And the hope for this standing feature of The Protojournalist is that by searching for a poetic nugget in the constant rush of news we can slow down for a moment and contemplate what the news story really means.
Like finding a lovely pebble in a mountain stream. Or a dropped earring on a crowded sidewalk.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:37 pm
Welcome to SymboGen, your friendly neighborhood medical company; have you stopped by for your tapeworm implant? Fair warning: There have been some unusual side effects ...
Health care has swallowed American headlines in recent years; besides the arguments over who deserves treatment to begin with, issues are emerging in pharmaceutical brand ethics, anti-vaccination activism, and the overuse of antibiotics. The war against disease is spreading against the smallest enemies of all.
When it comes to book publishing, all we ever seem to hear about is online sales, the growth of e-books and the latest version of a digital book reader. But the fact is, only 20 percent of the book market is e-books; it's still dominated by print. And a recent standoff in the book business shows how good old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar bookstores are still trying to wield their influence in the industry. You might even call it brick-and-mortar booksellers' revenge.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:35 pm
The drawings are MS Paint-style doodles, and the stories are about everyday things like cake, poor spelling and dopey dogs. And yet each month, millions of people visit Hyperbole and a Half, the hybrid Web comic and blog created by 28-year-old Allie Brosh, who says she "tries very hard to be funny." Hyperbole has just come out in book form with a mix of old and new material featuring Brosh's absurdist take on the world and her author avatar, a stick figure with a pink dress and what might be a blond ponytail — or might not.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 3:58 pm
There is much to praise about Allie Brosh's wonderful blog Hyperbole And A Half, perhaps the greatest gift the crude, blocky graphics of MS Paint have ever given us. Brosh's posts are hugely evocative, gut-bustingly funny, and startlingly inventive in using simple drawings in ways that allow for pauses and comic timing, not to mention things like blur effects that represent ... well, sugar-fueled madness.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 1:05 pm
Rarely as the rush of romance felt so, well, rushed as it does in Rebecca Walker's maiden novel Adé: A Love Story. It's a wild ride along with an unnamed (more on that later) biracial college student who's traveling through Africa with her white best friend. Our unnamed narrator falls in love with a Swahili man she meets on an island just off the Kenyan coast, grows apart from her friend and closer to her lover's family, and must struggle with the brutal realities of life under brutal Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi — all in 112 short pages.