The latest British movie to play the imitation game, Ex Machina, is the directorial debut of novelist-screenwriter Alex Garland. This time, the stakes are higher than the Nazi conquest of Europe. The talky sci-fi puzzler turns on nothing less than the potential displacement of humans by artificially intelligent cyborgs.
Then again, maybe the film is just another riff on the battle of the sexes.
It's always a pleasure to welcome Barrie Hardymon to any Pop Culture Happy Hour, even a short one. So this week, we sat down to chat about Wolf Hall, the prizewinning novel an adaptation of which just started airing on PBS. Barrie and I talk sweating sickness, intrigue, kings, sad stories, and the fact that she is available for all your "what's going on in this scene" needs. Seriously. You can tweet at her. She thinks about Henry's wives a lot.
Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 10:59 am
China may have surged ahead in scientific prowess in recent decades, but it still lags behind other countries in science fiction.
Author Liu Cixin is starting to change that. The books in a popular trilogy published in China have each sold more than half a million copies. He has won nine Galaxy Awards, the Chinese equivalent of the Hugo Award. And a recent English-language translation is bringing his science-packed, futuristic vision to new audiences.
Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 2:35 pm
A year after Sept. 11, actor Adam Driver joined the Marine Corps. He was working odd jobs, selling vacuum cleaners and paying rent to live in his parents' house — and he says, like many other Americans, he felt a sense of patriotism and he wanted retribution.
"I wanted to 'test my manhood' and serve my country and just get even and ... get away from home and everything I didn't like about it," Driver tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "In retrospect, it was actually pretty great."
Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 10:45 am
There's no shortage of tech startups in Silicon Valley, and since these companies are founded by people who can identify every Star Wars character at the drop of a hat, their names tend to sound pretty weird. Is Zurg a new app that analyzes your dreams, Doctor Who's nemesis, or a 12th-century warlord? For our show at San Francisco Sketchfest, we make contestants earn their nerd cred by telling us — is it a historical figure, a sci-fi villain or a tech company?
Rowan Van Zandt has never been alone. That's because he has lived his entire life in the company of his family: his mom, his dad, and his fraternal twin Faron. Where Faron is strong and impetuous, Rowan is bookish and quiet. The Van Zandts love each other, despite their differences, but they stick together for another reason: The America in which they live, many years in the future, is not an easy place to survive, especially if you're poor.
For decades, the name Renata Adler has provoked a host of differing opinions. She's been loved, hated, feared, admired and ostracized by literary institutions for her brazen and uncompromising views on journalism and the role of the journalist. Adler has never been one to succumb to the pressures of the establishment, a fact she has proved through her work time and again — even if it means calling out her employers and colleagues by name.
Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 10:04 am
In February 2006, I traveled to the farmland of eastern Shandong province to interview blind activist Chen Guangcheng. He had been abducted from Beijing by security agents and put under house arrest for the past six months.
When I arrived, Chen was closely guarded by men armed with clubs. I couldn't get into Chen's village, so I stayed with a family of peanut farmers nearby.
Their simple farmhouse was freezing cold on that snowy day. My hosts burned peanut shells in a stove to warm the place and cook us dinner.
In a tiny Northern California town called Vina, there's a winery that's definitely off the beaten track. That might be because this region's better known for olive groves and cattle ranches than grapes. For these, vintners, though, it's spiritual work.
Although she's best known as the voice of Lois, the put-upon wife of Peter Griffin on Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, Alex Borstein is a jane-of-all-trades. She's done improv, stand-up, sketch comedy on MADTv, and wrote for the '90s cartoon Pinky and the Brain.
Some people were born knowing what they want to be when they grow up. Brad Bird, the mastermind behind Pixar's The Incredibles and Ratatouille was one of those kids. At age thirteen, Bird finished his first animated film, a remake of The Tortoise and the Hare that ends in a five-way tie. He told Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg, "My parents told me to send it to the [most famous] person and work my way down." Luckily for Bird, the most famous person ended up being Milt Kahl, a legendary animator at Disney, who took Bird under his wing (pun intended).
It's hard to imagine someone as edgy and iconoclastic as Dan Savage as an institution, but he's written his "Savage Love" advice column for Seattle's weekly newspaper, The Stranger, for over twenty years. "I'm giving sex advice to the children of people who were childless when they were reading my column," the journalist and gay activist told Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg.