César Aira's The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira is only 80 pages long, but, like many of his books, it reads with the intensity and fullness of a much longer novel. In it you'll find an eccentric flaneur, an evil archenemy, a vicious guard dog, an ambulance that goes only in a straight line.
Dr. Aira, the main character, likes to wander the streets of a town called Pringles. That this happens to be the name of the author's hometown in Argentina may or may not be significant. As he walks, he thinks up theoretical miracle cures to imagined illnesses.
To speak with Ryan Murphy about his show American Horror Story is to hear this declaration repeatedly: "She classes up the joint."
Murphy is referring to his star, Jessica Lange, who recently won an Emmy for her role in the show's first season. If you've been a fan of Lange's film career, from Tootsie to Frances to Blue Sky, you might wonder why this treasure of the American theater, this two-time Oscar winner, is slumming in a lurid cable TV horror show.
Long before singer and pianist Michael Feinstein became famous in his own right, he had the privilege of working closely with legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin, as his archivist and cataloger. In his new book, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, Feinstein writes firsthand about the musical world of the American composers and brothers, George and Ira Gershwin.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:42 am
Brooklyn Castle, which I originally saw at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, is one of my favorite movies of the year. And starting this week, it's coming to theaters in select cities. (See a list of theaters here.)
If you’re a fan of fried anything, the smell here can be intoxicating. Hundreds have turned out for the first ever Athens Grease Festival, with knives and forks at the ready, The celebration of all things fried is a play on the origin of the city’s name from Athens, Greece.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 5:27 am
My first official kitchen chore, at the ripe age of 6, was to help Mom with the dal. It is one of the first dishes I learned to cook from her, and I still consider her the ultimate dal expert. Dal is sort of an umbrella term under which my family (and, I bet, most Indians) lump pulses and legumes such as lentils, beans and dried peas.
From the first five minutes of Vegas, there's no mistaking its classic Western heritage — they even have Stetson-wearing heroes wrangling a herd of cattle on horseback.
The year is 1960, and nail-tough rancher Ralph Lamb has been talked into serving as the top cop in Las Vegas. Lamb's only problem: He's taking over just as the mob is trying to turn Vegas from a sleepy ranch town into the world's grown-up playground.
In Vegas, the white hats just want to run their ranches, while the black hats fight over money, gambling and power.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned the conviction of Osama bin Laden's former driver and bodyguard, Salim Ahmed Hamdan. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Hamdan was at the center of a Supreme Court case that ruled that the Bush administration's military commission system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was unconstitutional.
Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 6:54 pm
With eyes on the presidential debate in New York, we decided to turn ours to the swing state of Nevada, where President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are battling mightily over the state's small but crucial trove of six electoral votes.
Polls show the race at a near dead heat in the Silver State, which was hit harder than any other by the recession, and still records among the highest unemployment and home foreclosure rates in the nation.
With the country mired in a civil war, Abraham Lincoln had a lot on his mind, so it's not surprising that the 16th president experienced vivid, troubling dreams.
"He was haunted by his dreams," says author and illustrator Lane Smith. In one dream, Lincoln found himself aboard an indescribable vessel moving toward an indistinct shore, Smith tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "He had these dreams apparently several times before momentous events of the Civil War, and in fact he had it the night before he was assassinated."
Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 3:31 pm
Using data on surnames dating back almost 1,000 years, economic historian Gregory Clark says he's found evidence that families rise and fall across generations at a much slower rate than anyone previously thought. And he says that rate remains constant across national boundaries and time periods.
Clark is writing a book about his research, and he says he's still working out some of his conclusions, but here are six possible takeaways from what he's found so far:
Here is a question that social scientists have been pondering for years: How much of your success in life is tied to your parents, and how much do you control?
The academic term used for this is "social mobility." And a striking new finding from economic historian Gregory Clark of the University of California, Davis claims your success in life may actually be determined by ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago. That means improving opportunities across generations might be a lot harder than anyone imagined.
The Somali-born rapper and singer-songwriter K'Naan can sure pack a lot into a 3-1/2-minute pop song: clever wit, heartfelt angst, a hook you can't shake — and, in the new track "Hurt Me Tomorrow," honky-tonk piano. That's the sort of quirk that helped win K'Naan his earliest fans. All sorts of eccentricities survive on Country, God or the Girl, his most expansive and elaborately produced work to date. Mostly, though, the new album soars with pairings of sharp, confessional rap and catchy vocal hooks.