Arts

Author Interviews
5:45 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Why'd The Scientist Cross The Road? To Figure Out Why You're Laughing

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 4:03 pm

Here's a joke: A man is sitting on the porch with his wife one night when, out of the blue he says, "I love you." His wife says, "Was that you? Or was that the beer talking?" The man says, "That was me — talking to the beer."

Maybe you laughed at that and maybe you didn't, but either way, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems wants to know whether you found it funny. In his new book HA! Weems explores the science "of when we laugh and why."

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sat March 15, 2014

A Delicate Arson: 'The Blazing World' Consumes Its Readers

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:06 am

Every now and again I come across a book that makes me wish to do violence to my learning, to tear away words like tour de force and magnificent in order to excavate something more true, more raw, more appropriate to the experience of reading it. Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World is such a book. Like fire, it feeds as it consumes: It gives off the warmth and light by which to read, understand, marvel at it — but in order to do so it absorbs the reader's gaze, knowledge and attention and combusts them, transforms them into the brightness by which it is read.

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Pop Culture
3:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

'Baby Jane' Holzer's Flight From High Society To Warhol Superstar

Socialite and actress Baby Jane Holzer, seen here in 1966, was one of artist Andy Warhol's first superstars.
Harry Benson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 11:49 am

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Author Interviews
3:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

A Tragic Disappearance (Mostly) Solved In 'Savage Harvest'

Courtesy of HarperCollins

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 9:32 am

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This Week's Must Read
3:46 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Malaysia Flight 370 And The World's Attention

A Vietnamese Air Force plane returns from a search operation over Vietnam's southern sea.
HOANG DINH NAM AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

It's been a week since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a week filled with misinformation, wild theorizing and the anxiety of the passengers' families. The story, and especially its lack of information, has the world watching and wondering.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
2:51 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Not My Job: Wing-Suit Explorer Joby Ogwyn Gets Quizzed On Wings (The Band)

Joby Ogwyn jumps over the peaks of the Matterhorn in Switzerland in 2009.
Discovery Channel

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 10:55 am

In May, the Discovery Channel will be broadcasting live as Joby Ogwyn climbs to the summit of Mount Everest, and then jumps off it, descending 10,000 feet in a wing suit.

As this is clearly the last chance we have to talk to him while he's still alive, we've invited him to play a game called "Band on the Run." Three questions about Wings, Paul McCartney's lesser-known band.

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The Salt
2:31 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Companies Tap Celebrity Power For Extreme Vegetable Makeover

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 9:31 pm

Marketing to kids may have gotten a bad rap in the past. Especially since children have been the target of so much junk food advertising.

But it's a new day.

Increasingly, companies are seeing profits pushing ultra-healthy stuff. And they're not using a finger-wagging, guilt-ridden, eat-your-veggies-because-they're-good-for-you messaging.

Birds Eye is taking a page from the playbook of other companies that have had success leveraging the power of teen pop stars: The frozen food giant is turning to Disney.

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Remembrances
2:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

A Fond Farewell For The Voice That Welcomed Viewers To Theaters

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Voiceover artist Hal Douglas died recently at age 89. Filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski discusses the life and work of the prolific speaker, who narrated thousands of movie trailers in a gravelly baritone.

News
2:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Tell Your Bestie: The OED Has New Words

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

The Oxford English Dictionary is adding some 900 new words and phrases to its pages, with wackadoodle, bestie and DIYer among them. Melissa and Robert review some of the new entries.

Television
9:33 am
Fri March 14, 2014

NBC Hostage Drama 'Crisis' Takes Viewers On A Rare TV Trip

Lance Gross plays Marcus Finley. Think of him as the show's Jack Bauer.
Vivian Zink NBC

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 2:44 pm

When I slipped in the preview DVD to watch the opening episodes of NBC's new drama series Crisis, which premieres Sunday, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. Oh, there was some anticipation in seeing Gillian Anderson of The X-Files in a series lead again; but I wasn't sure whether we'd be getting the demand-your-attention actress from such marvelous British imports as Great Expectations and Bleak House, or the underused supporting actress from NBC's Hannibal.

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Why Can't We Talk About An Injustice?

"It makes sense to fight for peace and justice and to protect basic human rights and dignity." —Bryan Stevenson
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:55 pm

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Bryan Stevenson's TED Talk

Lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about how America's criminal justice system works against the poor and people of color. He argues that these issues are wrapped up in America's unexamined history.

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Is The Law Making Us Less Free?

"We need to rewrite and radically simplify and re-humanize the structure of public law in our society." —Philip K. Howard
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:32 pm

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Philip K. Howard's TED Talk

Lawyer Philip K. Howard says the U.S. has become a legal minefield — especially for teachers and doctors, whose work has been paralyzed by fear of lawsuits.

About Philip K. Howard

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

What If Our Health Care System Kept Us Healthy?

"We all harbor one fiercely held aspiration for our health care: that it keep us healthy." —Rebecca Onie
Courtesy of TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:53 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Rebecca Onie's TED Talk

Health advocate Rebecca Onie describes how our health care system can be restructured to prevent — and not just treat — illness.

About Rebecca Onie

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TED Radio Hour
7:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Has Money Taken Over American Politics?

"There is no sensible reform possible until we end this corruption." —Lawrence Lessig
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 12:34 pm

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solving It.

About Lawrence Lessig's TED Talk

Legal scholar Lawrence Lessig says corruption is at the heart of American politics. He says the campaign funding process weakens democracy and he issues a bipartisan call for change.

About Lawrence Lessig

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Monkey See
6:41 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Naked And The Nerds

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

A while ago, we devoted a segment to the matter of profanity, and now, as summer follows spring and spring (supposedly) follows winter, we are moving on to the issue of nudity. When is it decorative? When is it exploitation? And how would they see all of this from Europe?

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Author Interviews
3:16 am
Fri March 14, 2014

In 2009, 3 Americans Went For A Hike, And Ended Up In A Tehran Prison

Joshua Fattal (from left), Sarah Shourd and Shane Bauer were on a hike in 2009 when they unknowingly crossed a road that bordered to Iran. They were stopped by border patrol and imprisoned in Tehran.
Mia Nakano Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 9:27 am

In the summer of 2009, three young Americans went for a hike. Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were living together in Syria, teaching and writing. Their friend Josh Fattal was visiting from the U.S. The three took a tour to a waterfall in the Kurdish highlands of Iraq, and as they hiked along a road that turned out to be the border with Iran, an armed man in uniform waved them over.

The next thing they knew, they had embarked on a two-year ordeal in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran. They join NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about their new memoir, A Sliver of Light.

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Pop Culture
1:26 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Forget Nancy Drew: Thanks To Fans, 'Veronica Mars' Is Back On The Case

In the movie, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a recent law school grad living in New York when an old flame — Logan Echolls — calls her back to her home town of Neptune, Calif.
Robert Voets Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 3:03 pm

When Rob Thomas created Veronica Mars, his show about a sharp-elbowed girl detective, he had an ulterior motive: He wanted to kill off the reigning queen of teenaged sleuths — one who's been around for more than 80 years.

"Nancy Drew," Thomas says, his soft-spoken affect barely betrayed by a trace of a snarl. "Like, I feel like she had her run."

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Movie Reviews
4:13 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

In LA's Iranian Set, A Two-Sided Love Triangle With A Side Of Clichés

Nazanin Boniadi (left) occasionally lights up the screen as the lovestruck Shirin, but in the end her performance is hemmed in by the flatness of the film she anchors.
Katrina Wan PR

There's a lot that needs forgiving if you want to enjoy the few simple pleasures offered by Shirin In Love, but the most egregious fault is perhaps too structural to overlook: The love triangle set up for the title character (Nazanin Boniadi) by writer-director Ramin Niami angles too obviously in one direction. The end result is too much of a foregone conclusion even for a predictable romantic comedy.

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Movie Reviews
3:25 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Twins Or 'Enemy' — And What Could It All Mean?

Jake Gyllenhaal acts with stunning control and specificity in his double role as two lookalikes.
Courtesy of A24

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 3:27 pm

Strange and stylish and surpassingly dark, Denis Villeneuve's Enemy — especially paired with the same director's recent cop thriller Prisoners — makes a strong case for star Jake Gyllenhaal as maybe our most enigmatic young leading man.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Middle-Aged Souls Channel Teen Rebellion, Just For A 'Week-End'

A middle-aged British couple (Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent) attempts to re-create the sizzle of their Paris honeymoon in Le Week-End, from director Roger Michell.
Music Box Films

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

With A Spelling-Bee Subversion, Jason Bateman Breaks Bad

In the central relationship of the brisk comedy Bad Words, Guy Trilby's (Bateman) sour runs up against 10-year-old competitor Chaitanya's (Rohan Chand) sweet.
Focus Features

As the star of Arrested Development, Jason Bateman became best known for being the most mature member of the emotionally stunted Bluth family; the roles that followed were largely of the same tone, casting the actor as the affable, mild-mannered, often put-upon nice guy.

Always playing the straight man amid casts of clowns must have created some built-up performance envy, because in his directorial debut he trades in Mr. Nice Guy for Mr. Guy Trilby, finally getting to play an apparent case of severely arrested development himself.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Sex, Smokes, And Deneuve On The Move

In a twist of sorts on the typical male- or youth-driven road movie, Catherine Deneuve plays an older woman playing young.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 3:13 am

Unhinged by crises both monetary and amorous, a provincial Frenchwoman tells the employees at her restaurant, "I'll be back." Then she takes off in her ancient rattletrap with no escape plan beyond an illicit smoke and a drive to clear her addled head. Turns out she'll be gone a while.

Yes, there's a road movie in Bettie's cards. Yes, there will be formative ordeals. And yes, the payoff will be uplift, along with one of those toothsome al fresco country lunches where Mediterranean types wave their arms around and argue in friendly fashion.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

'Big Men,' Doing Big Business In Africa's Oil Fields

The big men at the center of Big Men are public, private and everything in between.
Jonathan Furmanski Abramorama

There are three categories of schemers in Big Men, Rachel Boynton's illuminating documentary about the oil business in West Africa: businessmen, politicians and bandits. Sometimes, though, it's hard to tell the types apart.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Boy Scouts, Bad Girls And The Hitler Youth

Teenage is composed almost entirely of archival footage, including images of American and British flappers of the 1920s.
Oscilloscope

Painted lips, slicked-back hair and pumping fists form the core of Matt Wolf's documentary Teenage, an impressionistic history of how our concept of the teenager came to be. Composed almost entirely of dazzling archival footage — young people laboring, exercising, fighting, dancing, drinking and playing — the film traces the history of the teenager from the late 19th century to 1945.

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Book Reviews
2:47 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

When You Befriend A Killer, You Can't Not Write About It

In addition to Blood Will Out, Walter Kirn is the author of four works of fiction and one other work of nonfiction.
Beowulf Sheehan Courtesy of Liveright Publishing

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:07 am

Nonfiction writers often have to go scrounging for their dream subject. They may buy themselves a ticket to some far-flung place, or join an Iditarod team, or start researching a historical figure who seems to have led a colorful life. Sometimes, writers are fortunate enough to already have a personal passion for one subject, and writing a book about it seems only natural.

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Arts & Life
2:21 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Amtrak Opens The Door To Writing On The Rails

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 4:35 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Things can take off fast on Twitter. And that's what happened when a couple of writers expressed how much they like riding trains, Amtrak specifically. It started with an idea: Wouldn't it be great if Amtrak would offer writers a chance to ride the rails for free and do some writing along the way? Soon, the idea was being tweeted and retweeted, and Amtrak replied: Sure.

NPR's Leah Binkovitz explains.

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The Salt
12:44 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Top 5 Ways Asparagus, A Rite Of Spring, Can Still Surprise

From the botanical to the economic, spring's iconic vegetable still harbors surprises.
Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 4:35 pm

As the snow melts, even in Minnesota, and daylight lingers into evening, people who like to eat with the seasons know what's coming: asparagus.

"Asparagus means the beginning of spring. It's spring!" says Nora Pouillon, chef and founder of Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C. Later this month, she'll revise her menu, and it will certainly include asparagus with salmon, and asparagus soup.

It's an elegant vegetable, Pouillon says, and unique: "Sweet and bitter at the same time."

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The Salt
11:34 am
Thu March 13, 2014

A Major In Coffee? UC Davis Might Be Brewing One Up

The University of California, Davis, recently founded a Coffee Center dedicated to the study of the beloved brew.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 3:22 pm

Many of us have those friends who insist that they're coffee connoisseurs and drink exclusively drip brews. But really, there aren't many academic programs that train people in the taste and science of coffee.

That might all change soon. The University of California, Davis, recently founded a Coffee Center dedicated to the study of the world of java. This week, the center held its first research conference.

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The Protojournalist
11:11 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Forget Speed-Reading. Here's Speed-Writing

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 2:43 am

Speed-reading all rage. Suddenly many speed-reading apps. Spritz. Spreeder. Others.

Some inspired by method RSVP — rapid serial visual presentation.

"Rather than read words

from left to right,"

says Marc Slater, managing director of Spreeder parent company eReflect.

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Ask Me Another
9:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Danny Pudi: What's My One-Liner?

Danny Pudi, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, where Ask Me Another performed as part of SF Sketchfest, the comedy festival.
Jakub Mosur

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 11:09 am

  • Danny serenades the grand winner in Polish
  • Danny talks about his documentary, "Untucked"

You might expect that the actor who's brought Community's most idiosyncratic character, Abed, to life, with such skill and empathy must relate to him in some way. Danny Pudi admits that while he's not so similar to his encyclopedically-inclined alter ego (save one incident of lighting himself on fire as a teenager), there is one area in which the actor and the character overlap: their love of film.

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