Arts

Critics' Lists: Summer 2013
1:05 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Nancy Pearl Scours The Shelves For Books You Might Have Missed

Andrew Bannecker

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 2:06 pm

If you'd like your summer reading to take you beyond the beaten path, librarian Nancy Pearl is here to help. NPR's go-to books guru joins us regularly to reveal "under the radar" reads — books she thinks deserve more attention than they've been getting. Pearl talks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about some of the titles she picked out for the summer reading season.

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Movie Reviews
11:00 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

For Pixar's 'Monsters,' A Sophomore Slump

For Billy Crystal's Mike, the big green eyeball of Monsters University, scaring hardly comes naturally.
Pixar

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 10:27 am

It's a big month for origin stories: first the Man of Steel, now the Eye of Green and the Abominable Furball of Blue — aka Mike and Sully, top scarers at Monsters, Inc. How did they become the best of the best, you ask? You didn't ask? Well, Pixar's got the answer anyway: They trained at Monsters U.

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Movie Reviews
10:11 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

'World War Z': When Going Viral Isn't Such A Good Thing

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) puts his past as a U.N. investigator to work again when he and his family — not to mention the rest of the planet — are threatened by a zombie apocalypse.
Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 9:09 am

World War Z is clearly out to make a buck — and needs to, since with its well-publicized overruns, rewrites and production delays, it looks to have cost gazillions in screenwriter salaries alone — but for its first hour or so, you'd never guess this sprawling contagion epic had anything on its mind but action storytelling.

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The Two-Way
4:20 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Gandolfini Suffered Cardiac Arrest On Family Trip, Reports Say

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and Edie Falco as his wife, Carmella, in a scene from The Sopranos. Gandolfini died of cardiac arrest in Italy, according to reports citing a doctor at the hospital where was admitted.
Barry Wetcher HBO

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 4:45 pm

Actor James Gandolfini died of cardiac arrest, The Los Angeles Times reports, citing the doctor in charge of the emergency department at the hospital in Rome where the Sopranos star was admitted.

Dr. Claudio Modini told the Times that Gandolfini, 51, was already in cardiac arrest when he arrived at Policlinico Umberto I Hospital Wednesday night.

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Book Reviews
3:47 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

'Crazy Rich Asians': Lives Of The .0001 Percent

The Venetian Macao, the world's biggest casino by gaming tables, opened to the public in 2007.
Mike Clarke AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 4:42 pm

It's impossible to open the newspaper or turn on the TV these days without seeing some outrageous example of new Asian money. From a castle modeled on Versailles in Changsha to billion-dollar penthouses in Bombay to the Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore, with its seven celebrity-chef restaurants, the inescapable truth looms before us: We Asians are not just rich but also, frankly, somewhat crazy.

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Television
3:31 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

'Dome' Luck: On CBS, A Drama About Getting Stuck With Each Other

In the wake of the dome's mysterious appearance, the townspeople are cut off from access to TV, phones and the Internet, and must make do with the people and objects they have at their disposal.
CBS

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 2:55 pm

One of the most anticipated shows of the summer, Under the Dome, starts Monday on CBS. It's about a tiny New England town that's suddenly and mysteriously sealed off by an impenetrable dome.

The series is the first on-screen collaboration between two of the biggest Steves in popular culture — Steven Spielberg and Stephen King.

"The Steven Squared, we call it," cracks Neal Baer, an executive producer of the show.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

A 'Hijacking' Where Business And Personal Collide

prepare menus at gunpoint as the cargo vessel's owners negotiate for its release." href="/post/hijacking-where-business-and-personal-collide" class="noexit lightbox">
Pilou Asbaek (right) plays ship's cook Mikkel, a new dad who desperately wishes to return to his family, but is instead forced to prepare menus at gunpoint as the cargo vessel's owners negotiate for its release.
Magnolia Pictures

You might expect big action from a movie about the hijacking of a cargo ship by Somali pirates. But after a preliminary flurry of roughing-up, the Danish drama A Hijacking is mostly about the excruciating process of getting to "yes" when language is the least of the barriers between two very different mindsets.

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Arts & Life
12:25 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Nikky Finney Ponders Possibilities Of The Poetry Profession

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Over the past several weeks, we checked in with our colleagues and friends in a series of conversations called "Looking Ahead," today, poet Nikky Finney. Two years ago, she riveted the audience as she accepted a National Book Award for her poetry collection "Head Off & Split."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)

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Monkey See
12:20 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

To Be, Or Not To Be (Covered By The AP)

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 2:45 pm

Ever so quietly this week, the national arts scene became a bit more fragmented, a bit more stratified and a lot more invisible. The Associated Press has just spiked a chunk of its opera, dance and off-Broadway coverage. And in this case, no news is bad news.

In an email, AP chief theater writer Mark Kennedy described the decision to me:

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Remembrances
12:19 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Gandolfini Through The Eyes Of Those He Worked With

Actor James Gandolfini speaks at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards in January 2013. He died on June 19.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

As New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007, James Gandolfini created a character that helped open television to a new era of great and nuanced acting. When he died in Italy on Wednesday at the age of 51, fans around the world were shocked.

And as Fresh Air's television critic David Bianculli noticed, there was an instant online outpouring that celebrated "what an iconic performance he gave us in terms of television."

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The Protojournalist
11:24 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Haiku In The News: Obama In Berlin

Sean Gallup Getty Images

"Citizens who choose ...

To be defined by a wall,

or ... to tear it down. "

From Remarks by President Obama at the Brandenburg Gate. June 19, 2013.

****

(If you find examples of Haiku in the News, please send them to: protojournalist@npr.org)

Ask Me Another
9:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

TV Time Machine

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:03 am

How well do you know your television history? In 1926, NBC was created as a radio network, moved toward television in the thirties, then aired Today, followed by The Tonight Show and eventually, Saturday Night Live. We're sure other important things happened in between. In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg offers up the names of three similar-sounding TV show titles, and you have to put them in chronological order.

Ask Me Another
9:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

With The Beatles

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:03 am

Do you identify as a Beatles fan? Thought so. Listen as house musician Jonathan Coulton takes some of Fab Four's most beloved hits and transforms them into trivia questions about famous people. Is nothing sacred?

Ask Me Another
9:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Phrase Anatomy

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:03 am

You don't need a medical license to solve these clues. Host Ophira Eisenberg offers literal interpretations of phrases that involve parts of the body--"I'm so awkward and clumsy, I'm entirely pollical digits!" You may think this game is a real pain in the cervical vertebrae (but not literally).

Ask Me Another
9:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Dot Dot

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:03 am

Those two little dots that get placed over vowels are known either as umlauts or diaereses. They're used to indicate that the vowel is pronounced in an unusual way, and sometimes they're used in people's names because they're foreign. Or pretentious. (Just ask Anaïs Nin or Chloë Sevigny.) Puzzle guru Art Chung leads this final round full of double-dotted words.

Ask Me Another
9:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Game Of Many Thrones

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:03 am

In the battle-scarred land of Westeros, there exist esteemed kings, queens and knights. But they have got to sit somewhere. While this round actually has nothing to do with the HBO series Game of Thrones, it is indeed a game of thrones. House musician Jonathan Coulton doles out clues to different types of chairs.

Plus, Coulton concludes the game with a royal cover of Dave Edmunds' "Queen of Hearts."

Ask Me Another
9:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Ham Sandwiches

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:03 am

We're sure you're champing at the bit for this game, led by host Ophira Eisenberg, in which contestants must make word "sandwiches" that contain the letters h-a-m. A round of cHAMpagne for the winner.

Monkey See
6:07 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Watch: Stephen Colbert Thanks And Remembers His Mom

Seen here in May 2012, Stephen Colbert last night gave a tribute to his mom, who passed away recently.
Charles Sykes AP

Stephen Colbert's mother Lorna died recently at 92, and on last night's Colbert Report, he offered her a funny, sweet, warm tribute that really requires no additional comment.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
5:19 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Book News: Alice Munro, Author Of Pensive Short Stories, May Retire

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

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Charles Moore's 'Margaret Thatcher' Is A Softer Iron Lady

Early on in Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, he describes a birthday party at which a school friend tells the future prime minister, "If you don't stop bossing us, I shall stamp on your foot."

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu June 20, 2013

When Love Is 'In The House'

Wessel Du Plooy iStockphoto.com

"Love is not all," warned the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. "It is not meat nor drink / Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain." She was right, of course, but if there were ever any advice destined to fall on stubbornly deaf ears, this is it. Love is not all, but it always feels like it is, whether you're happily partnered or bereft.

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Books
5:03 am
Thu June 20, 2013

In Salter's Novels, The Ladies ARE Lunch

This spring, James Salter published All That Is, his first novel in nearly 35 years — and the critics could not have been more excited.

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The Salt
12:56 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Gourmands Through The Ages: 'A History Of Food In 100 Recipes'

Detail from a painting found on the walls of a 4,000-year-old tomb in Luxor, Egypt, that depicts bread making.
Werner Forman Archive

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 8:58 am

Think our current culture has become food-obsessed? Take a look at this wall painting from ancient Egypt.

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Monkey See
1:15 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

From Classic Toys To New Twists, Kids Go Back To Blocks

Legos and other interlocking toys are only one kind of blocks that remain popular with kids.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 11:39 am

I visited Toy Fair in New York City hunting for ideas for our summer series about kids' culture. One of the big takeaways was the increasing popularity of construction games such as Legos. Sales shot up nearly 20 percent last year. Now, it seems, every major toy manufacturer is scrambling to add new games geared toward kids building things.

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Around the Nation
1:07 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

'The Watchers' Have Had Their Eyes On Us For Years

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.
Saul Loeb Getty Images

The revelations about secret National Security Agency programs, leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this month, have stirred great controversy, but this type of surveillance is not entirely new, according to journalist Shane Harris.

In his 2010 book, The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, Harris traced the evolution of these surveillance programs in the U.S.

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Fine Art
10:40 am
Wed June 19, 2013

The Art Of Life: Claes Oldenburg At MOMA

Oldenburg's fascination with simple, everyday objects often led him to food as a subject, as with Pastry Case, I, 1961-62.
Claes Oldenburg Museum of Modern Art

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 2:05 pm

The sculptor Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm but grew up in Chicago, went to Yale and came to New York in 1956, where he became a key player in the pop art movement — the major counter-reaction to the abstract expressionism that dominated the 1950s. So much for art history.

Although Oldenburg is a serious artist, probably no artist in history ever created works that were more fun. In a new show at the Museum of Modern Art — really two shows — practically everyone, including myself, was walking through the galleries with a huge grin.

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The Salt
9:28 am
Wed June 19, 2013

The Martini: This American Cocktail May Have An International Twist

The martini: international drink of mystery?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 12:15 pm

There's no cocktail more distinctly American than the martini. It's strong, sophisticated and sexy. It's everything we hope to project while ordering one.

Baltimore-born satirist H.L. Mencken is said to have called the martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet." But is the martini perfectly American? Maybe not entirely.

So in honor of National Martini Day on Wednesday, we decided to dig into the drink's muddled past.

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Monkey See
8:03 am
Wed June 19, 2013

The 25 Movies To Which 'World War Z' Is A Sequel, Probably

Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane, Abigail Hargrove is Rachel Lane, and Mireille Enos is Karin Lane in World War Z.
Jaap Buitendijk Paramount Pictures

World War A (in which Isaac Newton is bonked on the head and still bravely figures out gravity)

World War B (spun off from a VH1 reality show)

World War C (in which two dudes hit each other with cellos for 2.5 hours)

World War D (part of The Great Report Card Skirmish Of 1998)

World War-E (in which a tiny robot rolls around and watches Hello Dolly and then smashes the doubloons out of everything in sight)

World War F (the [bleep]ing best war ever)

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Monkey See
6:47 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Bait And Twitch: Vice Magazine, Suicide Glamour, And Not Staying Quiet

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 12:48 pm

This week, Vice magazine unveiled a fashion spread featuring images based on famous female writers who killed themselves. To call it merely tasteless would be to understate how calculated it was, as well as how revolting it was — it literally created an image based on a real writer who really hanged herself with a pair of stockings, and then it told you where to buy the stockings.

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The Two-Way
5:58 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Book News: Kim Jong Un Reportedly Gave 'Mein Kampf' As Gifts

Kim Jong Un (center) watched a performance celebrating the anniversary of the Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Yao Dawei Associated Press

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 7:52 am

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

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