Critics are slamming Beyonce for using an audio clip from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in her new song "XO." Was she being insensitive, or artistic? Host Michel Martin hears from the beauty shop ladies: journalists Bridget Johnson and Keli Goff, and Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino.
Meg Wolitzer's most recent novel is The Interestings.
What's potentially more troubling than a memoirist out for revenge? One who's only out for truth. Gary Shteyngart's dazzling, highly enjoyable book is the story of his life — a story that he owns, along with all the details. Yet, as an only child who immigrated from Leningrad to Queens with his parents in 1979, with no brothers or sisters to provide narrative distraction, he not only provides an intimate look at himself, he also by necessity put his parents under a fairly strong magnifying lens.
Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 11:59 am
Photographer John Dominis died Monday at age 92 and left behind one of those archives that are hard to comprehend. Over the course of a few decades at Life magazine, Dominis not only worked in just about every photographic genre but also seemed to have mastered them.
Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 8:10 am
When I was 7 years old, living in a flat overlooking Hamra street in Ras Beirut, I read The Hobbit. I fell in love with it. I memorized all the songs and made up tunes to them; I memorized all the riddles and asked them of whoever would listen; I made up my own adventures in Mirkwood, my own encounters with Gandalf and Beorn and the Elves. I also read everything I could about Tolkien, and went in search of anything else he'd written. I decided that I too would be a writer, and that I would start with poems and work my way into fiction the way he did.
The journalism world may be in crisis, but one magazine in France has been steadily gaining subscribers for 40 years. It's a nature journal called La Hulotte, and twice a year it focuses on an animal or plant indigenous to the French countryside. The magazine published its 100th issue in November. It has more than 150,000 subscribers in many countries and is doing terrific financially.
Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 4:32 am
In case you want to add a pinch of celebratory beverage to your first meal of the year, we invite you to look through the Kitchen Window. A spirited New Year's can come from the kitchen as well as the bar.
We've featured a number of stories using alcohol as an ingredient in cooking as well as in bartending — if it tastes good in a glass, it tastes good on a plate. It's also a great way to use up any leftover libations from your holiday celebrations.
The year passed so awfully quickly, like a twitch in a shooter game, that it kind of faked me out. A week ago, I didn't believe there were 10 stellar games to make a complete 'best of' story. But I looked at a list I'd been keeping since January. I was suddenly overwhelmed — I saw at least 30 worthy games. And from those, I plucked the very best of 2013.
0: Twitter collected no profit, Snapchat collected no revenue, and Apple's stock has roughly stayed flat over the past year. But in Silicon Valley, where companies are judged by potential, zero is still something.
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 9:00 am
Here's why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.
Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.
Are we witnessing the twilight of DVD and Blu-ray?
Kinda-sorta. With the emergence of various digital distributions systems — streaming and downloading through your laptop, your cable system, your game console — it's easy to see how these discs will be the next physical media formats to fade away. DVD and Blu-ray could well go the way of CDs and vinyl, becoming a niche boutique market for collectors.
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:09 am
Remember Brick's frequent trips to "Echo Spring" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Echo Spring, Olivia Laing reminds us in her illuminating new book, is a nickname for the liquor cabinet, drawn from the brand of bourbon it contains. Symbolically, she adds, it refers to something quite different: "perhaps to the attainment of silence, or to the obliteration of troubled thoughts that comes, temporarily at least, with a sufficiency of booze."
New Year's resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you're already extremely accomplished?
These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).
When I was first explaining what I wanted this blog to be like in 2008, I shared with some folks at NPR a theory I have had for some time about writing about popular culture. It goes like this: If you think monkeys are fascinating and you want to understand and be of value to them, it's not enough to be an expert on what monkeys should ideally eat. You have to understand what monkeys actually eat.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation released a study in 2012 showing that African-Americans give a larger share of their income to charities than any other group. Tracey Webb, founder of The Black Benefactors and BlackGivesBack.com, talks to host Michel Martin about African-American philanthropy.
My holiday break last week took an unexpected detour when a broken bone (not mine) changed our plans for a full family get-together. Thus, I was left with a few days of unanticipated free time on my own, which led me to the obvious conclusion: if I can't be fully relaxed and immersed in holiday joy the entire time, this is the perfect time to clean out my closets.
If I say cinnamon, you say ... sugar? It's a popular combination, of course.
But if you're interested in the health-promoting effects of cinnamon, you may want to think anew about the spice.
For instance, says John Critchley, executive chef at Bourbon Steak Restaurant in Washington, D.C., why not add it to savory dishes? He uses cinnamon to create a spice and herb rub for lamb loin. He also whips up a great spinach salad with raisins, pine nuts and cinnamon.
As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year — numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. You'll hear the stories behind numbers ranging from zero to 1 trillion.
When it comes to race and film, the number of the year is 11.