Popular soft drinks, sports cars and other brands appear surreptitiously placed in the worlds of our favorite TV shows and films all the time. Soon enough, we may see them name-dropped in our books, too.
To help imagine some egregious-yet-hilarious examples of this, we invited a prolific writer to Ask Me Another: award-winning young adult author Lois Lowry. Lowry joins forces with a fellow book-loving contestant to play "Product Placement," a game in which they must combine the titles of famous literary works with the names of household products and companies.
Guatemalan author Eduardo Halfon is this week's Alt.latino guest DJ, and he's a natural choice; his new book, The Polish Boxer, is a series of semi-autobiographical stories woven through with loving references to jazz and classical music.
Alt.latino host Jasmine Garsd had this to say about The Polish Boxer:
[I really hope it goes without saying that this piece about the film adaptation of a decades-old novel gives away the plot of a decades-old novel. But: Be aware.]
The sheer zazz that Baz Luhrmann introduces into The Great Gatsby is so imposing in quantity that it's surprising that it can get out of the way enough not to be the biggest problem in the movie. Luhrmann, after all, loves his swooping cameras and party scenes, and Gatsby gives him the best excuse for excess that there is: a story about excess.
This is the second installment of NPR's Cook Your Cupboard, a food series about improvising with what you have on hand. Got a food that has you stumped? Submit a photo and we'll ask chefs about our favorites!
Laurel Ruma, an NPR listener from Medford, Mass., didn't realize quite how much she had gathered up from her travels until renovating her kitchen last summer. She unearthed things like harissa, chickpea flour and black chia seeds.
Journalists make choices all the time that influence our understanding of the news — the choice of what stories to cover, which people to interview, which words to use. And major news organizations have been reconsidering how best to describe a group of people whose very presence in this country breaks immigration law.
In 1961, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner came up with some basic theories of caveman linguistics in their 2,000-Year-Old Man skit. Most of them had to do with rocks, as in, "What are you doing with that rock there?"
Now, a professor in England has questioned the validity of the famous caveman's rock-centric theories. And Mark Pagel of the University of Reading is reaching even further back, to the time of the 15,000-year-old man.
Light It Up: Director Baz Luhrmann (right, with stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan on the set of The Great Gatsby) brought a lush visual sensibility to a tale whose tone not everyone thinks of as epic.
Credit Jaimie Trueblood / Paramount Pictures
The Bang-Bang Club:Pain & Gain, with Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson as three guys on a heist, is a coulda-been-nimble caper that got Michael Bay-ified on the way to the multiplex.
Here's a movie pitch: A celebrated millionaire, known for public extravagance, lives right on the water in a fabulous mansion. He's smooth but reckless, drives like a maniac, has a powerful enemy and — despite a rep as a playboy — has only one girlfriend, who barely registers on-screen.
You're the producer, so whaddya think? Does his story require lavish digital effects, swooping cameras, a rap soundtrack and the full-on 3-D treatment?
If I tell you his name is Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man, probably yes, right?
Scrub away the gore and the nastier bits of provocation, and Ben Wheatley's Sightseers belongs squarely in the tradition of British classics like Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ruling Class — satires that transformed simmering class resentment into brittle, nasty dark comedy.
A 'Great Gatsby'? Leonardo DiCaprio suits up to play the mysterious, magnetic title character in Baz Luhrmann's exuberantly turbulent film adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
Credit Warner Bros. Pictures
Under the watchful gaze of intrigued Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire, left) and seething old-money scion Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), Gatsby pays court to Tom's fascinated wife, Daisy (Carey Mulligan). Your local English major can tell you how that works out.
If anyone could pull off a multiplex-friendly adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby — a filmtreatment that might be capable of stepping out of the long shadow cast by the book — it's Baz Luhrmann, right? The Australian director who dragged Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers into the music-video-shaken, bullet-ridden '90s with Romeo + Juliet and compressed a century's worth of pop music and melodrama into the glorious Moulin Rouge?
What's left to know about Venus and Serena Williams? Probably not much that the tennis titans would be willing to share, given how heavily exposed they've been already, and how eager the press has been to wedge the sisters into ready-made narratives about race, celebrity and the daughters of a Svengali.
"How angry am I? You don't want to know. Nobody wants to know." Those are the opening lines of Claire Messud's new novel, The Woman Upstairs. The novel is about a single woman, Nora, who hasn't fulfilled her dreams of being an artist and having children. Nora's plight is complicated when she befriends a woman who has done both.
In the new HBO series Family Tree, Chris O'Dowd (above left, with the series' writer-director-producer Christopher Guest) stars as a guy who has just lost his job and girlfriend and fills the void by looking into his family genealogy.
Christopher Guest, co-creator with Jim Piddock of the new HBO comedy series Family Tree, obviously is having a good time making this show — and it's contagious. It's several shows in one, and every element is a self-assured little delight.
Ray Harryhausen, who died Tuesday in London at age 92, became fascinated with animation after seeing King Kong in 1933. He went on to create some of the most memorable monsters of old Hollywood, from dinosaurs to mythological creatures.
His monsters, however, were never completely divorced from the real world.
We kick off our road show with a game dedicated to the stereotypical Boston dialect--you know, the one that tells you to "Pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd"? Host Ophira Eisenberg has a little punny fun with phrases and names that take on whole new meanings when you drop the "r's" in certain words. And for the record, "Hahd-Cawr Pun" is just Boston-speak for "Hard-Core Pun."
It's been a great time in Boston, but we've reached the Ask Me One More final round. Puzzle guru Art Chung leads the final five contestants in a game comprised of words, phrases and names that begin with the letters B-A-N. For example, the triangular patterned cloth you might wear around your head or neck would be a "bandana," and if it doesn't bear the Red Sox logo, then you're in the wrong town.
Jonathan Coulton is wicked stoked to pay tribute to Boston in the best way he knows how: by substituting the names of Boston neighborhoods into the lyrics of well-known songs about other cities. For example, if Elvis had spent more time in a certain Boston neighborhood, he might have written a song called "Viva Dorchester!" Can you name the original towns? Or do you prefer a "Roslindale State of Mind"?
Let's start with a brief tour of streaming television online.
For quite a while, streaming television meant sitting and watching it on your computer. It wasn't ideal, for obvious reasons. Then, it got easier to sit and watch it on your phone. That wasn't ideal, either, if you liked the living-room experience. Tablets do a better job than phones of delivering a portable but less tiny experience.
Is there room for another book about America's favorite pastime? Lucas Mann's Class A earns a position in a lineup that already includes Bang the Drum Slowly, The Natural, The Boys of Summer, Moneyball and The Art of Fielding because, remarkably, it offers a fresh, unexpected angle on this well-trodden game.
Parvati and Saleem (Shriya Saran and Satya Bhabha), born in tandem at the birth of independent India, are at the center of Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children. Thirty years after the book's publication,filmmaker Deepa Mehta has committed the story to the big screen.
Credit 108 Media
Mehta and Rushdie, both Indian-born expatriate artists acclaimed in their disciplines, share an appetite for lyrical, vividly colorful storytelling.
In the 1970s, Salman Rushdie was an unknown writer living in London. He decided to return to the country of his birth and rough it across India on what he describes as "extraordinarily long 15-hour bus rides with chickens vomiting on our feet."
That trip inspired Midnight's Children, the Booker Prize-winning novel that many consider Rushdie's literary masterpiece. Now, more than 30 years after it was published, Midnight's Children arrives on the big screen in a glittering film adaptation from Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta.
Mother's Day is this Sunday. While some people are racking their brains to think of the perfect way to show their love and appreciation for Mom, a group of distinguished women recently flipped that script and wrote about the most profound gift their own moms gave to them. Their essays are collected in the new book What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most.
Note: It is 100 percent true and 51 percent relevant that this entire story was written inside my brain while I was in the dentist's chair under the influence of anesthesia. I began to think, "Jeff Probst [the host of Survivor] will not be happy until he is more important than tribal council. Until he is king of CBS. Until he is President of the United States. President Jeff Probst." So the entire thing is numbness-induced in so many ways. Make of that what you will.
President Jeff Probst's State Of The Union Address, delivered Feb. 2 [xxx]
Credit Courtesy of Archives des Musees Nationaux A Paris
A photo taken by the Nazis during World War II shows a room filled with stolen art at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris. Using improved technology and the Internet, the French government is making a renewed push to track down the rightful owners of art looted by the Nazis.
Credit Michel Euler / AP
American Thomas Selldorff and Austrian art historian Sophie Lillie, who helped him identify the paintings, pose for the media during a ceremony at the Culture Ministry in Paris on March 19 to return paintings taken from their Jewish owners during World War II. Selldorff, 82, was a young boy when the Nazis took the paintings from his grandfather.
During World War II, the Nazis plundered tens of thousands of works of art from the private collections of European Jews, many living in France. About 75 percent of the artwork that came back to France from Germany at the end of the war has been returned to their rightful owners.
But there are still approximately 2,000 art objects that remain unclaimed. The French government has now begun one of its most extensive efforts ever to find the heirs and return the art.
My mother didn't plant a great many spring bulbs. But over by the pachysandra patch, there was a single lovely pink tulip, and I kept my eye on it for two weeks before Mother's Day. When that Sunday morning arrived, I rushed out, snipped it and ran inside to where she lay sleeping to present it to her. "Did you pick that outside?" she inquired, her expression shifting from sleepy surprise to something more complicated. I nodded proudly. "Oh ... thank you, sweetie."
Matt Kindt is a storyteller so fully in control of his gifts that his graphic novels — 3 Story, Revolver and others — read like quietly compelling arguments for the comics medium's narrative potential.
Many high school seniors who are heading to college this fall have just paid their tuition deposits — the first real taste of what the college experience is going to cost them. These students are heading to school at a time that some consider a transformative moment for American colleges and universities. Costs are skyrocketing, and there are some real questions about what value college students are getting for their money.