It's probably a little too pat to say that all successful political careers are marked by contradiction and compromise, though you're not likely to hear many objections to that characterization. Politics is a game of survival, and with a few sadly notable exceptions, unyielding purists seldom make it to the top.
It has been a very good 12 months for Lupita Nyong'o: piles of awards (including an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Patsy in 12 Years a Slave), a contract to be the face of Lancôme Paris cosmetics, and now this: the cover of People's annual "50 Most Beautiful" issue.
Over the past year or so, I've looked at how TV's expanding universe represents gays and lesbians and working women. This piece about transgender representation feels like an important part of the same project.
Skyscrapers are a hallmark of large cities. Modern engineering makes it possible to erect something as tall as the Empire State Building on a very small footprint. Although developers love these buildings, in New York — the city of skyscrapers — residents have been upset at the shadows they cast over public spaces like Central Park.
Seth Meyers already had his dream job. As the host of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, "I sort of had already accomplished the job I never thought I would accomplish," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. He joined the cast in 2001 and was there for 12 years.
Finally today, let's hear from a model and actress who also has Nigerian roots, Yaya Alafia. Last year was a breakout year for her with meaty roles in critically acclaimed films including Lee Daniels' "The Butler" and Andrew Dosunmu's "Mother of George." And she had a baby.
Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 8:26 am
Fox has started to release images of the Simpsons from the upcoming episode "Brick Like Me," which is — get this — the 550th episode. That means you could watch a different episode of The Simpsons every day for roughly a year and a half, weekends and weekdays, before you ran out of new ones.
Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 6:44 am
The question you have to ask yourself is, how juicy do you like your science fiction?
And I mean that in terms of a spectrum. To me, classic space operas are saltines — dusty and dry and fit only as a calmative after a long binge of weirder, more foreign flavors. William Gibson? He's ... moist. Rudy Rucker is a juicy peach. Paul Di Filippo is that same peach, a week gone and with a tooth stuck in it.
INSKEEP: Our tech reporting team has its head in the cloud this week. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case concerning over-the-air television being stored in the cloud. A start-up company called Aereo lets customers access broadcast TV shows through computers, smartphones and tablets. Protesters say they're stealing content.
No one can send up sexism with a punch line quite like Amy Schumer.
"A lot of the women's magazines are supposed to, like, be confidence building, but they really just scare ... you so you buy the products in them," she says in one stand-up routine. "Like, they all will put Jessica Alba or somebody like that on the cover. And she's supersexualized no matter what magazine. ... And you're like, 'Good Housekeeping?' "
In Syria, the 1980s were marked by a bloody civil war between the Sunni majority and the minority Alawite Muslim government. That's now the setting for a novel titled "In Praise of Hatred." It's by Syrian writer Khaled Khalifa. It's now available in the United States and a translation by Larry Price. And Alan Cheuse has our review.
In her new book, Forcing the Spring, investigative reporter Jo Becker tells the behind-the-scenes story of an important chapter in the fight for marriage equality. She embedded with the team that challenged Proposition 8 — the 2008 anti-gay-marriage California ballot initiative that called for amending the state constitution to say that the state would only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.
And now, the regular feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we invite some of our guest to tell us about the songs on their playlists. We caught up with entertainer Margaret Cho during her latest comedy tour. And she gave us a few of her favorite tunes.
And now it's time for Muses and Metaphor. That's our ode to National Poetry Month. All through April we are featuring original tweet-length poems, 140 characters or less, delivered by Twitter and written by NPR listeners and, new this year, some of our regular contributors.
Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 1:10 pm
The narrators of Francine Prose's novel Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 are not to be trusted. In describing the life of Lou Villars, French racecar driver, cross dresser and Gestapo torturer, Prose tells a complex story about the malleability of truth when everybody is a collaborator.
In the annals of great first lines, The Noble Hustle's ranks near the top: "I have a good poker face," Colson Whitehead writes, "because I am half dead inside." Hustle is a gritty, grimly funny — and seriously self-deprecating — account of Whitehead's adventures in poker, from home games to seedy $2 tables in Atlantic City and finally a trip to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker — with a few detours for beef jerky, and a discourse on Anhedonia, his gloomy spiritual homeland.
Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 8:42 am
Bruce Springsteen may have been ahead of his times with his song "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)," released in 1992. These days there are hundreds of channels, and whether you like it or not, you get most of them in your basic cable package. On Tuesday, that economic model is being challenged in the Supreme Court in a high-stakes legal battle between the broadcast television networks and a tiny startup, or at least tiny by broadcast standards.
The issues focus on copyright law, but the outcome could alter the face of broadcasting in the United States.
Two important cases will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court today. One of them involves a high-stakes, high-tech battle that has raised the possibility of major TV networks no longer broadcasting over the air. The other case involves the future of lying in political campaigns. Here's NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.
Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 9:11 am
Netflix, buoyed by its foray into original productions such as the political drama House of Cards, said Monday it has added 2.25 million new customers and plans to raise its new-subscriptions rate by $1 or $2 a month.
The video streaming service reported first quarter earnings of $53 million, or 86 cents a share. Its share price surged by 6 percent following the announcement of earnings that compared with $2.7 million in the same period a year ago.
Millionaire Chinese gamblers, high-class Mongolian escorts, drunken Englishmen — these are the kind of characters who populate Lawrence Osborne's hypnotic new novel, The Ballad of a Small Player. Set in the hotels and casinos of Macau, a former Portuguese colony where ostentatious 21st century glamour meets the faded charms of old Asia, the novel traces the trajectory of a compulsive gambler, the self-styled "Lord" Doyle, a man who seems addicted to failure. "Everyone knows that you are not a real player until you secretly prefer losing," he asserts at the beginning of the novel.
When celebrity chef Paula Deen got in trouble for maybe being racist last year, I couldn't help but think about The Boondocks. The Deen controversy, and all of the comedic potential it provided, seemed to be perfect fodder for an episode of the Peabody Award-winning show that airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
At first, Hari Kondabolu's comedy was mostly about catharsis: "I was doing some work in detention centers and meeting families who had family members who were going to be deported," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was really powerful work ... but it was incredibly hard and performing at night was a relief. It was cathartic. It was just a way to get things out."
Rap and hip-hop have been around for decades and have become one of America's most successful cultural exports.
But when the Library of Congress added new recordings to its national registry this year, none of them were hip-hop.
Tell Me More guest host Celeste Headlee discusses that with William Boone, professor in the English and African-American studies department at Winston-Salem State University. He says that hip-hop artists are used to being overlooked by the powers that be.
Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 9:33 am
[This post discusses the plot of Sunday night's episode.]
Once Mad Men moved into the early-middle part of the 1960s, people began to ask an increasingly urgent question: Where was the civil rights movement? Where were the black people? Was Sterling Cooper (Draper Pryce) (And Partners) really so sheltered that race barely touched its tiny world?