Arts & Life

Television
1:37 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

'The Strain' And 'Extant' Play On Fears Of Forces Out Of Our Control

The threat is both viral and vampire in The Strain, a show about the sudden outbreak of a disease that kills most of its victims — then begins to mutate them into another species entirely.
Michael Gibson FX

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 3:02 pm

They say every generation gets the science fiction it deserves, built around its biggest and most primal fears. Well, maybe they don't say that — but they should. In the '50s, all those movies about mutant giant monsters going berserk were a way for us to channel our fears about the atomic bomb. In the same way, in that same decade, all those body-snatcher movies were about being unable to tell friend from foe, or trust even your closest loved ones — the perfect paranoid parable for the Communist witch-hunting era.

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Monkey See
11:57 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Social Media Meltdowns Highlight The Power Of The Audience

Anthony Cumia, at an April event commemorating 20 years of The Opie & Anthony Show, was fired after a series of racially charged tweets.
Cindy Ord Getty Images Entertainment

At first glance, Adam Richman and Anthony Cumia might not seem to have much in common.

True enough, they are media stars who took a hard fall thanks to untoward comments on social media. Richman, a host on the Travel Channel, saw the debut of his new show delayed indefinitely after an online spat led him to suggest one critic commit suicide.

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Monkey See
10:28 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Press Tour Day 1: Paper Airplanes, Daniel Radcliffe, And Christmas

David Rees speaks onstage at the "Going Deep with David Rees" panel during the National Geographic Channels portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association press tour.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

For the next couple of weeks, I'm out in California covering the Television Critics Association press tour. Not familiar? Here's an introduction.

Day 1 of summer press tour began with hammering and ended with a giant Christmas tree.

Let's back up.

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The Two-Way
7:02 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Book News: Amazon Makes Direct Offer To Hachette Authors

Paul Sakuma AP

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

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed July 9, 2014

With A Good Twist Or Two, This Haunted 'House' Adds Plenty Of Stories

Don't pay too much attention to the shifty eyes in the old portrait. Same goes for the mysterious tapping down the hall of the vast family manor — and, for that matter, the secrets lurking in its attic. Don't even be fooled by the ghost.

The Hundred-Year House may be crowded with the tropes and tricks of classic horror, but make no mistake: It's not a horror story. Rebecca Makkai's style, a patchwork of ambition and aw-shucks charm, lets in just enough sunlight to scatter those things that go bump in the night.

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Newscast
5:06 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Guns, Voting, And Shrinking Populations

5pm Newscast

Tuesday July 8, 2014

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Book Your Trip
3:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

In 'Little Engine That Could,' Some See An Early Feminist Hero

Was "I think I can" the great-grandmother of "lean in?" Some readers see the plucky locomotive as a parable about working women, but some versions of the story feature a male protagonist instead.
Platt & Munk, Penguin Young Readers Group

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:23 pm

"Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong."

The beloved tale of the little blue engine — who helps bring a broken-down train of toys to the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain — has been chugging along for a very long time. But despite the locomotive's optimistic refrain — I think I can, I think I can, I think I can — the story has a somewhat checkered past: In its tracks, The Little Engine has left both a legal battle and a debate over whether the little blue engine is male or female.

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Book Reviews
3:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Book Review: 'Shooting Star'

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 5:13 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A 30-year-old novel has just been translated to English but keeps its Spanish name, "Muerte En Una Estrella." The author is Sergio Elizondo, and the translators are Rosaura Sanchez and Beatrice Pita. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it crackles.

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Movie Reviews
2:44 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The French Like

In the new French film Violette, Emmanuelle Devos plays a fictionalized character based on Violette Leduc, the trailblazing French novelist.
Courtesy of Adopt Films

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:03 pm

Americans put a lot of stock in being likable. Pollsters take surveys of the president's likability. Test screenings check whether we like the characters in movies. And when a literary novelist like Claire Messud mocks the notion that fictional characters should be someone we'd like to be friends with, writers of popular fiction attack her for snootiness.

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Monkey See
10:21 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Voting Blockbusters: One Man's Battle With His Own Mind

Back to the Future (1985), starring Michael J. Fox, is one of two comedies Chris Klimek included on his list of the 15 best summer blockbusters that came out between 1975 and 2013.
Universal Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 2:19 pm

I've lived a dissolute life of cowardice and regret, but that's no biggie, because I was also part of a 13-critic jury — all staffers of or contributors to the superb website-for-movie-lovers The Dissolve — who chose, via three rounds of voting, the 50 greatest summer blockbusters, circa 1975-2013.

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Monkey See
9:08 am
Tue July 8, 2014

What's Happening In Television: It's Press Tour Time Again

It's that time again.

For the next couple of weeks, I'll be writing from the Television Critics Association Press Tour, where a couple hundred critics convene in a giant hotel ballroom to question producers, writers, network executives, actors, and sometimes other folks about what's coming up on TV. It can bring out both the punchy and the grumpy in many folks you know who write about all this: Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter calls it the Death March With Cocktails. (A little later on, my NPR colleague Eric Deggans will be here, too.)

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The Two-Way
6:31 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Book News: J.K. Rowling Writes A New 'Harry Potter' Story

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:23 am

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

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Balancing Signal And Noise In 'Landline'

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 10:57 am

I'm deeply conflicted about how to review this book. On the one hand, I literally laughed and cried from one page to the next and devoured the whole in a brief sitting.

On the other hand, I've also read Rainbow Rowell's other books, and this one pales in comparison.

So I could review it straightforwardly and say that it's funny, clever, charming, endearing, and all that would be true — but I could also review it and say that in some ways it's the least of the books of hers I've read so far, and that would also be true.

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