Oh no, I thought, cracking open Brian Kimberling's debut novel, Snapper. It's a collection of linked stories. Starring an aimless birdwatcher. Who drives an ancient, glitter-encrusted pickup truck named Gypsy Moth and has a grand passion for an honest-to-God Manic Pixie Dream Girl with red hair, floaty dresses, a flute and a killer pancake recipe. And her name is Lola. Lola! I was braced for a thorough beat-down with the dreaded Whimsy Hammer.
Portland and Seattle may take coffee very seriously, but San Diego can boast a newspaper devoted entirely to coffee shops and all the news that's fit to print about them. John Rippo is the publisher of The Espresso, and he's convinced that coffee shops are the places to catch juicy moments of the human experience as they happen.
Inspired by European periodicals written for the cafe intelligentsia, Rippo curates local news in his monthly paper to inspire his fellow San Diego residents to social or political action.
Last spring, what NBC fondly refers to as "America's First Family" went through a very public divorce. Ann Curry, who spent more than a decade as a news anchor on the Today show and less than a year as a host, was unexpectedly axed. "For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker," Curry said with emotion in her last morning broadcast, "I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line. But man, I did try."
Imagine a world with machines that wash, press and dress you on the way to work and vacations via hologram visits to exotic beaches. In his new book, The New Digital Age, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt does just that — but it's no gee-whiz Jetsons fantasy.
Schmidt partners up with Jared Cohen, a foreign policy counterterrorist specialist poached from the State Department now working for Google Ideas. Together they forecast a raft of new innovations and corresponding threats that will arise for dictatorships, techno revolutionaries, terrorists and you.
Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji was once approached by a reporter for an interview. When Banaji heard the name of the magazine the reporter was writing for, she declined the interview: She didn't think much of the magazine and believed it portrayed research in psychology inaccurately.
But then the reporter said something that made her reconsider, Banaji recalled: "She said, 'You know, I used to be a student at Yale when you were there, and even though I didn't take a course with you, I do remember hearing about your work.' "
Robert Redford's new movie, The Company You Keep, draws on a turbulent time in recent history: Forty years ago, there was a violent faction of SDS, the Students for a Democratic Society, that was known as the Weather Underground. It turned from organizing marches and sit-ins against the war in Vietnam to planting bombs — and in one case robbing a bank truck and killing a guard.
Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, a cardiologist at the UCLA Medical Center, coined the term "zoobiquity" to describe the idea of looking to animals and the doctors who care for them to better understand human health. Veterinary medicine had not been on her radar at all until about 10 years ago. That's when she was asked to join the medical advisory board for the Los Angeles Zoo and she began hearing about "congestive heart failure in a gorilla or leukemia in a rhinoceros or breast cancer in a tiger or a lion."
Saturday night at Town Hall in New York, the Nor'easters of Northeastern University in Boston were crowned national champions at the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), the entirely real battle dramatized in last summer's surprise hit Pitch Perfect.
It's lunchtime in the heart of Sao Paulo's financial district. Surrounded by tall buildings of cool glass and steel, men and women in suits and business attire walk back and forth busily in Brazil's largest city.
Standing amid the bustle is Leticia Matos — who is, for want of a better word, a crochet artist. She couldn't look more different from the people around her.
Wearing a short-sleeve shirt and covered in bright, quirky tattoos, Matos is at work, too. About a year ago, she says, she got the idea for her project while knitting and crocheting with her friends.
Rectify, a new drama series from the Sundance Channel, wants to stand out from the pack — and it certainly succeeds at that. It's a six-hour limited series, more along the British model of TV than ours here in the States. If these first six installments catch on enough, the story will continue. If not, that's it.
And Rectify is so unusual a show, with its own deliberate pace and premise and approach, that it may not build enough viewership to keep going. But that doesn't mean it's nota worthwhile show, or a memorable one — because it is.
In December, Tom Cruise starred as the title character in the film "Jack Reacher." In "Oblivion," which opened on Friday, he plays another Jack, one of few humans left on an Earth devastated by an alien invasion. "Oblivion" is based on a graphic novel co-written by Joseph Kosinski, who went on to direct the film, and it costars Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.
Many people thought Laura Bates was out of her mind when she offered to teach Shakespeare in the maximum security wing of an Indiana prison. But the prisoners found a deep connection with the playwright's words. Laura Bates talks about her experience in her new book Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard. She speaks with host Michel Martin.
Tell Me More is celebrating National Poetry Month with the series 'Muses and Metaphor.' Listeners are sending their own poems via Twitter. Today's poetic tweet comes from Luisa Igloria. She teaches creative writing at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.