Arts & Life

Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Listening To The Ho-Hum Of The Machine

Sonoya Mizuno and Alicia Vikander in Ex-Machina.
A24 Films

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 4:41 pm

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.

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Monkey See
2:51 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Small Batch Edition: 'Wolf Hall' On PBS

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in Masterpiece's Wolf Hall.
Giles Keyte Playground & Company Pictures for MASTERPIECE/BBC/PBS

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.

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Parallels
2:50 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Cultural Revolution-Meets-Aliens: Chinese Writer Takes On Sci-Fi

Best-selling author Liu Cixin's science fiction books are breaking new ground in China's literary world.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

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.

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Movie Interviews
2:27 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Former Marine Adam Driver On What Acting And The Military Have In Common

Driver is best known for his role as Hannah's boyfriend on the HBO series Girls.
Craig Blankenhorn Courtesy of HBO

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."

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Ask Me Another
8:53 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Historical Figure, Sci-Fi Villain Or Tech Startup?

LA Johnson NPR

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?

See if you measure up with our quiz!

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Book Reviews
6:09 am
Thu April 9, 2015

'The Only Words' Remembers Love And Science After The Apocalypse

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 2:27 pm

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.

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Book Reviews
6:09 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Renata Adler, Taking A Buzz Saw To The 'Tall Timber'

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 5:29 pm

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.

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Parallels
2:28 am
Thu April 9, 2015

China's 'Barefoot Lawyer' And His Great Escape

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.

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The Salt
2:26 am
Thu April 9, 2015

These Vintner Monks Turn Wilderness Into The Divine Gift Of Wine

The St. James vineyard at the Abbey of New Clairvaux. The 20 brothers of the abbey belong to an order with a tradition of winemaking that dates back nearly 900 years.
Lisa Morehouse for NPR

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 6:34 am

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.

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Arts & Life
9:20 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Grandparent Movie Database

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 10:22 am

If grandparents ran IMDB, descriptions would sound like this: "He's that one in the Grabbed movies? He has a particular set of skills." Can you guess the actors by their slightly confused bios?

Heard in Sketchfest 2015: Alex Borstein, Brad Bird and Dan Savage

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Ask Me Another VIPs: Very Important Puzzlers
9:19 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Family Guy's Alex Borstein On Her Voice, Fans And New Gig On HBO

Getting On's Alex Borstein.
Carlo Allegri Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 7:13 pm

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.

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Ask Me Another
5:28 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

This That or The Other

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 10:22 am

Is Bluetooth is a historical figure, a sci-fi villain or a tech startup? There's something for every kind of nerd in our Silicon Valley-themed "This, That or the Other."

Heard in Sketchfest 2015: Alex Borstein, Brad Bird and Dan Savage

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Ask Me Another
5:28 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Pixar's Brad Bird Talks French Food, Animated Rats And New Film 'Tomorrowland'

Pixar's Brad Bird.
Jason Carter Rinaldi Getty Images for Disney

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 7:12 pm

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).

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Ask Me Another
5:28 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Malady Melody

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 10:22 am

Sick of certain songs? This game features songs about being sick — we've rewritten their lyrics to be about the common illness in their titles. You give me fever!

Heard in Sketchfest 2015: Alex Borstein, Brad Bird and Dan Savage

Ask Me Another
5:28 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Sex Advice Columnist Dan Savage Still Fresh After 20 Years

Sex Advice Columnist Dan Savage
Dan Dion NPR

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 7:12 pm

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.

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