More than 300 films screened this past week at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Audience Choice Award went to 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen. Host Jacki Lyden talks with NPR's Linda Holmes and Bob Mondello about what was hot and what was not.
WEEKEND EDITION's travel segment Winging It aims to bring you advice and ideas about different ways to spend your free time and profiles of people embarking of adventures of all kinds. A few months, ago we introduced you to Rebecca Hall. When we spoke with her, Hall was getting ready to set out on an unusual journey - traveling from Greece to Hong Kong on a cargo ship.
The writer Jesmyn Ward lost her brother in a car accident, and she was never the same — but her grief would broaden and her losses compound. First one friend died, then another and another — all young black men, and all of them dead before the age of 30.
In her wrenching new memoir, Men We Reaped, Ward takes us to her hometown of DeLisle, on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. It's a place ravaged by poverty, drugs and routine violence. But even so, the place — and the memory of those she has lost — keeps pulling Ward back.
I fell in love with Shirley Hazzard in 1980, when her great book Transit of Venus came out. I was completely dazzled by the beauty and authority of her writing, and by the effortless way she created this world.
The novel opens with a description of a storm. The air is charged with unthinkable violence, a sense of atmospheric threat which will recur throughout the book:
There are a lot of fascinating details hiding below the surface in the world of color. For instance, scientists once thought the average color of the entire universe was turquoise — until they recalculated and realized it was beige.
In Japan, you wait at a stoplight until it turns from red to blue, even though it's the same green color as American stoplights.
And in World War II, the British painted a whole flotilla of warships pinkish-purple so they'd blend in with the sky at dusk and confuse the Germans. That's right — pink warships.
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show featured a fearless flying squirrel and his slow-witted moose sidekick. They did battle with two scheming but incompetent Soviet spies named Boris and Natasha.
The cartoon is an American classic, beloved for a wry sense of humor that appeals to kids and their parents. It originally aired from 1959 until 1964, but has been in syndication ever since, most recently on the Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
In 2007, a breakaway extremist offshoot of the Mormon Church called the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints made national news. Police raided an FLDS compound in Texas where they found hundreds of women and girls. The church's leader, Warren Jeffs, was sentenced to life plus 20 years behind bars for sexually assaulting children.
Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 3:40 pm
Color continued to be a big deal on the New York runways during Fashion Week this week, but almost all the color was represented by the clothes being showcased in the new collections and not the models wearing them.
That lack of diversity has been a perennial problem in the fashion industry — at home and abroad — for at least the past 15 years. And while there may be an Asian or Hispanic girl from time to time (in this industry, everyone is a "girl"), discernibly black girls get token representation if they get it at all.
It's axiomatic now that comics have gone from being kids' stuff to, in some cases, adults only. These days, comics are recognized as a real artistic form, one that can be complex, subtle, pointed, probing and profane.
One of the artists most responsible for this is Art Spiegelman, who drew for Topps Bubble Gum comics, invented the Garbage Pail Kids, created a character who was all head, no body, for Playboy and won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus, his Holocaust comic — a phrase that was once unfathomable.
Terry McMillan weaves together different voices, generations, races and surprises in her latest novel, Who Asked You?. It's a family story that revolves around Betty Jean — known as BJ — a woman who worked as a Los Angeles maid and raised three kids. Her husband is now retired and suffers from Alzheimer's and her children have grown up in radically different ways. One son, Dexter, is in prison. Another son, Quentin, is a successful chiropractor who has had multiple marriages, pointedly lives out of town and wants little contact with his family.
Pereira and Luckman, Los Angeles International Airport Original Plan, 1952
Credit LAWA Flight Path Learning Center
William H. Evans, Tower of Civilization, 1939. At 150 feet in diameter and soaring 1,290 feet, the tower would have been the tallest structure in the world at the time.
Credit Huntington Library
Goodell Monorail, 1963 — The coaches on the proposed monorail took design cues from the Cadillacs of the time.
Credit Los Angeles County Metropolitan
Pereira and Luckman, Los Angeles International Airport Original Plan, 1952<strong> — </strong>The original design for LAX had a single, centralized terminal under a glass dome, a plan which was nixed by both the airlines and city engineers.
Credit LAWA Flight Path Learning Center
B+U, Firestone Mixed-Use Office Building, 2009 — A mix of offices, retail shops, a cafe and a plaza, this building would have been covered by braided fabric at different levels of transparency. The project went down with the economy.
Credit B+U Architects
Lloyd Wright, Civic Center Plan, 1925. Lloyd Wright's competition entry for the Los Angeles Civic Center put rapid-transit throughways under the city and gave pedestrians right-of-ways on broad terraces.
Credit Eric Lloyd Wright
DMJM, Pacific Ocean Park Redevelopment, 1969 — The designer proposed a 30-story hotel situated 300 feet offshore. It would have had a glass-enclosed bridge to connect it to land; alas, it fell victim to real estate negotiations.
Credit Edward Cella Gallery/Carlos Diniz Archive
John Lautner, Griffith Park Nature Center, 1972-1974 — In this painting of the proposed center, Lautner was at pains to how the building was inspired by land and sky.
Credit 1996-2001 AccuSoft Co., All righ / John Lautner Archive, Getty Research Institute
Frank Lloyd Wright, Huntington Hartford Sports Club, 1947. The planned 130-acre hotel development would have been a few blocks off Hollywood Boulevard.
Credit Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
The "Steel Cloud," which won a design competition aimed at creating a monumental Los Angeles answer to structures like St. Louis' iconic arch and the Eiffel Tower, was designed by Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture.
A museum exhibit about buildings that don't exist might not sound all that exciting. But the Architecture & Design Museum in Los Angeles has had its crowds grow to 10 times their normal level for a show called Never Built: Los Angeles. It's on through Oct. 13 – and it's all about projects that were imagined for the city but never constructed.
Let's start with one of the most high-profile: a 1968 proposal that would've dramatically altered the profile of Mount Hollywood.
Washington, D.C., has long been thought of as a city filled with corrupt, cynical careerists who care only about themselves. Well, New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich has written a book called This Town that basically proves it.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. It is Friday and back in the day this was payday for most people, so we thought this was as good a day as any to talk about wealth, wages and poverty. In a few minutes we will hear about how poverty seems to be affecting the health of white women in a dramatic way.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael, with us from Cleveland. Here in our Washington, D.C. studios, sports writer and journalism professor Kevin Blackistone, Corey Dade, contributing editor for The Root, and NPR editor Ammad Omar decided to stick around. What do you know?
Wadjda tells the story of a 10-year-old Saudi girl determined to have a bicycle in a culture that frowns on female riding. Writer-director Haifaa al-Mansour says she wanted to put a human face on the situation of women in Saudi Arabia, where driving is not permitted.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 5:55 pm
Think "Beltway sniper," and what vehicle comes to mind?
Probably not the blue Chevy Caprice actually used by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo in the random killings that terrorized the nation's capital and its environs in the fall of 2002 — because for most of the investigation, the media's mantra was to be on the lookout for a white van or box truck.
With intrepid host Linda Holmes trapped in the air-conditioned movie theaters of Toronto, the Pop Culture Happy Hour gang was forced to reconstitute itself yet again for this week's episode — this time with our old pal Tanya Ballard Brown, who returns via the power of popular demand. You talk, we listen, people.
What happens when hipsters grow up? Do they become less insufferable with age? Do they learn to contribute something useful to the society they've long scorned, and in turn were scorned by? Maybe they, like Norman Rush's deceased character Douglas, leave New York City and go live in a castle somewhere, work on secret projects for the Israeli government, get a trophy wife and raise a child who opts to worship Odin and live wild in the surrounding forest.
With her weird, wistful new novel MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood completes the apocalyptic trilogy she began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Like its predecessors, MaddAddam is a blend of satiric futurism and magic realism, a snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease. That mad scientist is the brilliant bioengineer Crake, whose story is retold in this novel by the Crakers, the post-humans he designed to experience no sexual jealousy, and to eat nothing but plants.
To mark the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, Jews fast from sundown to sundown. But before the sun sets, friends and family gather to enjoy one final meal. And for the Jews of Eastern Europe, that meal traditionally includes kreplach.
Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 8:13 am
For a while in Jamie Meltzer's mesmerizing documentary Informant, I wondered whether subject Brandon Darby, the lefty activist turned FBI informer, was being played by an actor.
But no: It's Darby, and he's a handsome fellow, with haunted eyes blazing out of a bone structure to die for, and with a Montgomery Clift dimple in his chin. Staring straight into the camera, he testifies with the intense calm of a messiah or a madman, which all too often comes to the same thing. Among other things, this powerfully confused man is a study in American extremity.
The Iowa-born, Zimbabwe-bred actress Danai Gurira (<em>The Walking Dead</em>) stars as half of a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn and coping with culture clash in <em>Mother of George.</em>
Credit Oscilloscope Laboratories
Traditional Yoruba mores and American expectations are just the beginning of the hurdles that Gurira's Adenike and Isaach de Bankole's Ayodele must negotiate; the question of a child will enter the equation as well.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:51 pm
From the start, Mother of George looks at its two protagonists, Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach de Bankole), across distinct gender lines. The film opens at their traditional Yoruba wedding with two contrasted, tightly framed, straight-on shots of the groom and bride's parties.
Later, after the ceremonies, the differences between the two groups become more defined: We watch the women give Adenike child-rearing advice, while the men talk about how best to hide their infidelities.
In Wonder, R.J. Palacio tells the story of Auggie, a tough, sweet, 10-year-old boy, who was born with distorted facial features — a "craniofacial difference" caused by an anomaly in his DNA.
Palacio tells NPR's Michele Norris that the book was inspired by a real-life encounter with her own kids six years ago. They were at an ice cream store and sat next to a little girl with a severe facial deformity. Palacio's 3-year-old son cried in fear, so the author grabbed her kids and fled. She was trying to protect the girl but also avoid her own discomfort.