Prescription painkillers are among the most widely used drugs in America. In the decade since New York Times reporter Barry Meier began investigating their use and abuse, he says he has seen the number of people dying from overdoses quadruple — an increase Meier calls "staggering."
"The current statistic is that about 16,000 people a year die of overdoses involving prescription narcotics. ... It's a huge problem. The number of people dying from these drugs is second only to the number of people that die in car accidents," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Earlier this month, we told you about a U.N. report that makes the case for insects to improve global food security: They're cheap, plentiful and environmentally sustainable. Now, the coming of the 17-year cicadas provides East Coast Americans, for whom bug eating is considered novel at best, with an opportunity to try local insect cuisine.
Tuesday night on The Voice, Adam Levine — who's the lead singer of Maroon 5 when he's not judging reality television — had two of the singers on his team eliminated. To understand this, just know that each of the four judge-coaches (Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton) starts out with a team of singers they're mentoring, and as they go through the competition, the coaches get pretty attached to the folks on their team and try to help them win. If one of your singers wins, you're sort of the "winning" coach for that season.
French film <em>Blue Is the Warmest Colour</em>, winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of a teenager named Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) who falls in love with a blue-haired art student named Emma (Lea Seydoux).
Credit Wild Bunch
John Powers, a <em>Fresh Air</em> critic at large, writes about film and television for <em>Vogue</em> and <em>Vogue Daily.</em>
Credit John Powers
Actors Garrett Hedlund (from left), Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, directors Joel and Ethan Coen, Oscar Isaac and T-Bone Burnett attend the <em>Inside Llewyn Davis</em> press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19.
"It was the film of the festival," critic John Powers tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about Blue Is the Warmest Color, this year's Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival. When Powers says "film of the festival" he means "it was the film that people loved the most, some hated the most, and everyone talked about the most."
Like most of her work, cartoonist Lynda Barry's class at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is unorthodox. "No artistic talent required," the course description states. The course is described as a "writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain."
A small, child-like creature in a cone hat peers into a toy shop, happy at the sight of a snow globe, in a vignette called "Tininess" in <em>Darkness Outside the Night</em>, a graphic novel illustrated by Xie Peng. Find out what happens in the <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/187048382/darkness-outside-the-night?tab=excerpt#excerpt">excerpt below</a>.
Credit Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson, with permission to reproduce the panels from Tabella Publishing LLP
Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.
Broadcast TV has seen the writing on the walls at Food Network, Bravo and TLC: competitive food shows can build solid followings (Chopped, Top Chef) and so can shows about baking (Cake Boss, Cupcake Wars). Throw in a format popular in Britain called The Great British Bake-Off, and add the appeal of television that leads with how unpretentious and down-home it is. Soak in a deep dish of Jeff Foxworthy, and you've got CBS's new offering, The American Baking Competition, which premieres Wednesday night.
This game pays homage to the board game Clue, and its hilarious film adaptation, by adopting its standard phrasing for a solved murder mystery: "Professor Plum, in the billiard room, with the candlestick!" Host Ophira Eisenberg doles out Clue-style descriptions of murder plots in famous films. The only crime in this game might be spoilers—so be warned.
Plus, house musician Jonathan Coulton treats us to a Beatles cover with a title that also could be the solution to a Clue murder mystery: "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."
Can you guess the Simpsons character whose first name is a Presidential middle name? If you said Milhouse, named after Richard Milhous Nixon, then you're off to a great start. In this game, Jonathan Coulton spices up the names of U.S. Presidents by "expanding" their middle names to include other famous people or characters.
A "spoonerism" is a play on words in which the initial sounds of two words are reversed. In this game, puzzle guru John Chaneski asks contestants to make spoonerisms out of movie and song titles. For example, a hit song by Blondie about the telephone, that can also be used to unlock a shopping center, would be a "Call Me mall key."
Can you name all the members of the Village People? In this game, house musician Jonathan Coulton pays tribute to the group's perennial dance classic, "Y.M.C.A.," with the song's lyrics rewritten test your knowledge of other four-letter abbreviations. You'll be singing along A.S.A.P.!
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We all know King Arthur's famous Knights of the Round Table, like Sir Galahad, sometimes referred to as the Knight of the Holy Grail, or Sir Lancelot, the Knight of the Lake. But do you know the Knight of Scales, Fangs and Coils: Sir Pent? (Say it aloud a few times.) In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg offers more descriptions of a word or phrase whose first syllable sounds like "Sir."
"I was just having an out-of-body experience, where I was like, 'You're on a game show, and Hootie and the Blowfish is the answer.' How did this happen?" — Dan Kennedy, author and host of The Moth<em> </em>podcast.
In honor of V.I.P. Dan Kennedy and his new novel American Spirit, puzzle guru John Chaneski cooks up a patriotic final round in which all the answers are phrases or titles that contain the word "America" or "American." America's got talent" — and yes, we mean you, brainy listeners.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
As you know, we at Monkey See enjoy creepy wax figurines maybe more than anything in the world, and now, Wax George Clooney (whose adventures we have chronicled in the past) has been joined at a photo shoot in London by Wax Will Smith, as well as Wax Emma Watson. You know, just to hang out. To talk about movies. To talk about being made of wax.
Like his 2009 National Book Award-winning novel, Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann's TransAtlantic is a braided novel that weaves together the stories of various characters — some historical, others invented. The storylines illustrate the deep and complex connections tying Ireland and the U.S. over a span of some 150 years, beginning with Frederick Douglass, who visits Ireland in 1845 to drum up abolitionist support, and ending with Sen.
In 1845, Frederick Douglass sailed to Ireland on a speaking tour to raise money for the abolitionist cause back home. About 75 years later, two airmen, Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown, performed the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight, flying 16 hours from Newfoundland to land in an Irish bog. And 79 years after that, George J. Mitchell, the former senator from Maine, repeatedly crisscrossed the ocean — New York, Belfast, New York, Belfast — to steer the Northern Ireland peace process on behalf of President Clinton.
Rhubarb — like spring itself — is fleeting and lovely. A vegetable that often masquerades as a fruit in sweet dishes, it is a true harbinger of the season, appearing in April and, if we're lucky, lasting until July. But it is best to seize rhubarb's moment and take full advantage as soon as its delicate pink and green ribs start appearing in markets and gardens.
Two young men — foster brothers in love with the same woman — leave their small Pakistani town for Afghanistan in late 2001. Jeo, a medical student, wants to help wounded civilians and Mikal is there to look after Jeo, but their good intentions aren't enough to keep them safe in an increasingly dangerous war zone.
Srinivas Ayyagari onstage in 1992 (left); at right, Ayyagari today. "Seeing someone from ESPN commenting on your style and strategy was bizarre and weird. But it's the closest I'll ever come to being an athlete," Ayyagari says.
Credit Srinivas Ayyagari
Karla Miller competed in the national bees of 1984, 1985 and 1986. Her best finish was 31st, when she went out on the word "dashiki." Today, Miller is a writer and editor. At right, a recent snapshot of Miller and her daughter.
Credit Karla Miller
(Left) 1988 champion Raga Ramachandran gives a TV interview at age 13. Today, Ramachandran is a surgical pathologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
For an academic contest pitting young spellers against the dictionary, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has taken on the intensity of the fiercest athletic events. Feeling the warmth of television lights — not to mention nerves and distractions — all while sports commentators are analyzing your "style" and approach is something only a select club of young word-nerdy Americans gets to experience. How does that early experience affect these mostly middle-school-aged kids later in life?
For 20 years, Stephen King has had an image stuck in his head: It's a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. "It wanted to be a story, but it wasn't a story," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But little by little, the story took shape around the image — and focused on an amusement park called "Joyland" located just a little farther down the beach.
As children, we are allowed to be confused, lost, and full of wonder. As adults in the age of Google, we are expected to project confidence, knowledge and understanding. Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, talks about how learning a foreign language reignited his imagination.
Last night brought the premiere of the new season of The Bachelorette, in which Desiree, who was rejected by Sean on the last season of The Bachelor, was presented with 25 men from whom to choose. The theory is that if television producers choose 25 guys for you to pick from, surely one of them is your soul mate. Makes sense!