Arts

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Fri August 23, 2013

A Little Onion Reveals Layers Of History In 'Good Lord Bird'

Hulton Archive Getty Images

"I was born a colored man and don't you forget it," announces Henry Shackleford in the opening pages of musician and author James McBride's novel, The Good Lord Bird. A manuscript, supposedly discovered after a church fire cleanup, offers the first person account of Henry, a young slave living in the Kansas Territories in 1857, as he becomes involved – reluctantly – with the anti-slavery forces led by John Brown.

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Code Switch
1:18 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Renowned Kung Fu Master Inspires Slew Of Action Flicks

Tony Leung (center) fends off challengers as Wing Chun kung fu master Ip Man in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster.
The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 11:34 am

Forty years after his death, there's a name that's become practically synonymous with Chinese kung fu films.

And no, it's not Bruce Lee.

It's actually his teacher, Ip Man.

The late kung fu master's life story has inspired more movie releases than Spider-Man. The five films so far include Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

The Filmmakers' Creation

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

In Bleak 'Paradise: Faith,' Both Can Seem Distant

Nabil Saleh
Strand Releasing

The difference between a provocative film and a challenging one can be difficult to parse. Yet it's essential to understanding the success and occasional missteps of Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Faith, the second part in a trilogy that, so far, has excelled at exploring the depths of human misery.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

In 'Drinking Buddies,' Drifting Through The Suds

Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) work together at a Chicago brewery — and teeter on the brink of a relationship. But in this film, the work is more compelling than the play.
Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 1:07 pm

"She's so pretty, she could be in any movie," a fan gushed after a screening of Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies. There's a lot more to Olivia Wilde than her feline loveliness, which, combined with a challenging stare that dares you to dismiss her as fluff, reminds me of a young Michelle Pfeiffer. But not much of that is allowed out to play in this strained comic drama about two young couples struggling to answer universal questions in particular ways.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Teenage Graceland: A Temporary Home For Troubled Kids

In Short Term 12, Grace (Brie Larson) counsels Marcus (Keith Stanfield), an angry young man about to age out of the foster care system.
Cinedigm

Originally published on Sun August 25, 2013 9:22 am

A group foster home + abused and at-risk kids + tough love + junior staff nearly as troubled as their charges: The potential for cliche is everywhere in Destin Cretton's enormously engaging Short Term 12, and — happily — is everywhere avoided. What might seem on paper a cloyingly sentimental heartwarmer becomes, in Cretton's hands, a briskly believable, often funny, always invigorating and ultimately wrenching story of emotional fortitude.

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Television
11:29 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Aussie Detective Jack Irish Is More Than Old-School Macho

Guy Pearce (front left) plays Jack Irish in TV movie adaptations of two Peter Temple novels. The films, Bad Debts and Black Tide, are broadcast by digital provider Acorn TV.
Lachlan Moore Acorn TV

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:28 pm

When Raymond Chandler first set Philip Marlowe walking down the mean streets of L.A., he couldn't have imagined that eventually every city, from ancient Athens to 21st century Bangkok, would have its own detective series. Of course, they're not all equally good.

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Movie Interviews
10:59 am
Thu August 22, 2013

An Epic Pub Crawl Gone Wrong Culminates In 'World's End'

Martin Freeman (from left), Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Eddie Marsan star as five old high school friends who reunite to finish an epic pub crawl in The World's End, directed by Edgar Wright.
Laurie Sparham Focus Features

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:33 pm

If you've ever participated in a miserably long pub crawl, you'll understand the plight of the characters in The World's End, the latest from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. The film follows five old high school friends who reunite to finish a pub crawl they started 20 years earlier. But as they travel from pub to pub in their old hometown, they find strange, supernatural things start to happen.

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Movie Interviews
10:26 am
Thu August 22, 2013

'Grandmaster' Ziyi Zhang: 'I Can Do Better Than Just Kicking Ass'

Ziyi Zhang plays martial artist Gong Er in the new film The Grandmaster.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:21 pm

Actress Ziyi Zhang is probably best known for her roles in the Oscar-winning films Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha. Now she co-stars in a new film, The Grandmaster, where she plays a fierce martial artist who stops at nothing to protect her family's legacy. But she says she can "do better than just kicking ass." She can seriously act, too.

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The Two-Way
5:42 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Book News: FBI Suspected William T. Vollmann Was The Unabomber

Author William T. Vollmann poses in his studio in Sacramento, Calif., in 2005.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Brainy, Fat And Full Of Ideas: 'Night Film' Is A Good-Natured Thriller

This poster is part of the advertizing campaign for Night Film by Marisha Pessl.
Random House

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 4:31 pm

Novels are low-tech objects. They can't be plugged in, they've got no buttons or knobs, and they don't make your eyes pop out of your head as you watch creatures or asteroids zigzag across a screen. Usually, novels have no visual aids at all. So if you want to know what Anna Karenina looks like, well, you just have to read the book.

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Crime In The City
12:58 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Awaiting The Apocalypse In The Quiet Town Of Concord

Ben Winters wrote the best-selling Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters, as well as Bedbugs, Android Karenina and several books for kids. So far, he's published two books in the Last Policeman series.
Neda Ulaby NPR

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 10:43 am

No place seems safe these days from someone's terrifying, post-apocalyptic imaginings. Los Angeles is wrecked in the movie Elysium, the South is zombie-ridden in TV's The Walking Dead, and now— thanks to writer Ben Winters — even the quiet streets of Concord are at risk of annihilation.

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The Salt
12:53 am
Thu August 22, 2013

In Canada, Maine Lobstermen Get Both A Rival And A Tutor

Sternman Scott Beede returns an undersized lobster while checking traps in Mount Desert, Maine.
Robert F Bukaty AP

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 10:43 am

There's nothing quite like the sweet, succulent taste of Maine lobster. And fishermen off the state's rocky coastline have been catching more and more of the tasty crustacean over the past five years.

But that surging supply has overwhelmed Maine's limited marketing and processing capabilities and driven down the prices paid to lobstermen.

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Book Reviews
2:05 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

'Things Falling' Is A Potboiler, But One That's Set To Simmer

Juan Gabriel Vasquez is also the author of The Informers.
Hermance Triay

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 4:38 pm

Colombia. The drug trade. Multiple plane crashes, drive-by shootings, Peace Corps hippies who peddle drugs, and an actual hippo on the loose. Despite all of that, there's actually not much plot to this novel. This is more of a metaphysical detective story where cause and effect can be difficult to pin down — a book where the events that matter most occur inside the characters.

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The Salt
10:38 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Forget Cronuts: London's 'Townies' Take On Hybrid-Dessert Craze

American baker Bea Vo, who runs Bea's of Bloomsburg, a string of bakeries in London, came up with this answer to the cronut: the townie, a tartlet-brownie with a gooey center and a crisp outer shell.
Courtesy Bea's of Bloomsburgy Helena Marie Fletcher

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:45 am

What's a baker to do when all foodies can talk about, on both sides of the Atlantic, is the cronut craze, a croissant-doughnut that NPR reported on earlier this year? Simple: Come up with an equally addictive hybrid dessert.

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Television
10:10 am
Wed August 21, 2013

'Bridge' Actor Demian Bichir On Portraying Border Life

Mexican detective Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) teams up with his American counterpart, Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), to solve a murder in FX's The Bridge.
Byron Cohen FX Network

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:34 am

The new FX series The Bridge begins with the discovery of a body on a bridge that connects El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. In it, a Mexican detective, played by Mexican actor Demian Bichir, has to work with an El Paso homicide cop to solve what turns out to be a serial murder case.

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Theater
9:55 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Playwright August Wilson In 'Another League'

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson may be best known for a 10 play series of dramas that explore black life in America, one for each decade of the 20th century. The series includes plays like "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "The Piano Lesson" and of course, perhaps Wilson's best-known work "Fences."

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, "FENCES")

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The Two-Way
5:24 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Book News: Barnes & Noble Founder Pulls Plug On Buyback Plan

A Barnes & Noble store in Bethel Park, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 7:19 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Raymond Carver And His Editor Re-Imagined In 'Scissors'

Stephane Michaka is a French writer.
Elisa Pone Random House

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 6:04 pm

The legendary minimalist short story writer Raymond Carver distilled the last decade of his life in his poem "Gravy." "Gravy, these past ten years," he writes. "Alive, sober, working, loving, and being loved by a good woman."

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Kitchen Window
10:03 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Getting Past Pesto To Re-Imagine Basil

Serri Graslie for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:06 am

Basil is a mega-celebrity of the herb world and has some of the same problems that come with fame. Known mostly for its starring role in pesto, it's recognized by many people primarily as an ingredient in other Italian dishes such as pastas and caprese salads. But if it were up to basil, it might prefer to be recognized for its work in lesser-known cuisines and recipes (the indie films and off-Broadway plays, if you will), where it shines in a different way and brings a new dimension to food.

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Movie Reviews
4:30 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Good Vs. Evil, Once More With (So Much) Feeling

Jace helps Clary as she sets about uncovering the truth about her unsuspected heritage as one of the chosen few who defend humans from things supernatural, and also he is pretty and blond and dreamy and distracting.
Rafy Sony/Screen Gems

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 11:22 am

It's time for mom and Clary to have the talk.

No, not that talk. Jocelyn (Lena Headey) needs to tell teenage Clary (Lily Collins) about angels and demons, vampires and werewolves, magic chalices and sacred blood — not to mention hidden sanctuaries, interdimensional portals, the identity of her father and the existence of an unknown brother. Plus something nutty about J.S. Bach.

No wonder she's been putting it off.

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The Salt
2:35 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

'Treme' Cookbook Captures The Flavor Of A Show And A City

Microwave pralines are easier to make than stovetop pralines, and just as tasty.
Ed Anderson Chronicle Books

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 9:34 am

If you find yourself craving New Orleans food, you could go there and melt in the sweltering heat for a dose of gumbo or praline bacon. Or you could settle in on your couch, as I've been doing, and torture yourself watching reruns of the HBO series Treme. It's set in post-Katrina New Orleans and, along with the music, it puts the city's food on center stage.

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Books News & Features
1:42 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard, The 'Dickens Of Detroit,' Dies At 87

In his home library, Leonard kept copies of every book he'd ever written.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 3:22 pm

The writer Elmore Leonard has died. He was 87 years old and had recently suffered a stroke.

For decades, Leonard — working at the very top of his profession as a crime writer — had been widely acclaimed, and universally read. He published 46 novels, which resulted in countless movie and TV adaptations, including the movies Out of Sight and Get Shorty and the TV series Justified.

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Author Interviews
11:56 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Wild, Wild Web: Policing An Early, Lawless Internet

The self-proclaimed sovereign principality of Sealand, aboard a World War II artillery platform, began hosting the Internet haven HavenCo in 2000.
AP

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 12:36 pm

Today's Internet users have become accustomed to stories of hacking, identity theft and cyberattacks, but there was a time when the freedom and anonymity of the Web were new, and no one was sure what rules — if any — applied to its use. Many thought the Internet was beyond government regulation, its very chaos a source of creativity and strength.

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Monkey See
7:54 am
Tue August 20, 2013

When The Paints Go Marching In: Down The Well-Appointed Rabbit Hole Of Home Decor

Matthias Kulka iStockphoto.com

Okay, background information first.

As an apartment-dweller, I have lived for 20 years in a series of white-walled boxes with neutral carpets. I have assembled and eventually ripped apart the kind of furniture that comes with an Allen wrench. And I have had my adventures. When leaving an apartment in Brooklyn, I tore a sofa bed apart with my bare hands and feet — broke it and destroyed it — because it was old and I knew I'd never get it through the door again.

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The Two-Way
5:13 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Book News: Albert Murray, Opponent Of Black Separatism, Dies At 97

Author and cultural critic Albert Murray wrote the 1970 book The Omni-Americans.
Chris Felver Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue August 20, 2013

'Schindler' Author Returns With A Tale Of The Great War

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 10:08 am

Is there more to say about World War I nurses and their patients after Hemingway's uber-classic A Farewell to Arms? The saga of ambulance driver Frederic Henry and his beautiful English nurse Catherine Barkley is generally thought to be an unrivaled fictional treatment of what was called, at the time, the Great War. Could a different novelist squeeze additional juice from this particular grape?

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All Tech Considered
2:36 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

App, Secret Sites Create The Immersive World Of 'Night Film'

Marisha Pessl's previous novel was Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
David Schulze

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 4:58 pm

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The Salt
1:43 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Incredibly Shrinking Avocados: Why This Year's Fruit Are So Tiny

We found lots of avocados being sold six or 10 to a $1 bag in the San Francisco area. Some weighed less than 3 ounces.
Alastair Bland for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:40 am

What's thick-skinned and leathery, about the size of an egg, essential for guacamole and sold eight for a dollar?

No, not limes. Hass avocados. This year, anyway. These pear-sized fruits usually weigh half a pound or more. In the summer of 2013, though, hundreds of thousands of trees in Southern California are sagging with the tiniest Hass avocados in local memory — some just the size of a golf ball.

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Author Interviews
12:02 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

'Lawrence' Of Arabia: From Archaeologist To War Hero

T.E. Lawrence, shown here on Oct. 3, 1928, wore Arab clothing in an effort to be seen as trustworthy.
AP

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 3:52 pm

One of the most intriguing figures of 20th-century warfare is T.E. Lawrence, the British army officer who immersed himself in the culture of the Arabian Peninsula's Bedouin tribes and played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. He became a well-known and romanticized figure in post-war England, and was immortalized in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

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The Salt
11:53 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Sandwich Monday: PB&J Fries

Peter failed to hitch this to the back of his motorcycle and bring it back to Chicago for us.
NPR

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 1:55 pm

Canadians have given us so much, from the BlackBerry, a kind of phone your parents' older friends used to use, to Leslie Hope, the lady who played Kiefer Sutherland's wife in Season 1 of 24. But perhaps towering above all is poutine, which translated from the Quebecois is "stuff poured onto french fries." Usually it's some variation of cheese, meat and gravy, but I was told that in Portland, Ore. (naturally), at a food truck (naturally), you can get peanut butter and jelly on fries. So I went, naturally.

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