Dying is easy, comedy is hard. But, why is comedy so hard, especially on the stage, and what makes something funny?
The premise for a famously funny plot could easily sound like a tragedy. An out of work actor is so desperate for employment that he dresses up like a woman and then falls in love with a beautiful co-star whom he deceives and betrays on several levels. That doesn't sound that hilarious.
From Faith Middleton Cornbread, corn muffins, corn pudding—if it's corn-centric, I'm all in. That's why I love to serve savory corn pancakes for supper.
I like to think of a corn pancake as a raft, a vehicle for anything wonderful that comes to mind. My new favorite topping for these savory buttermilk corn pancakes is shrimp, diced tomatoes, and crumbled bacon, served with a dollop of lime zest sour cream, all of which can be prepared ahead.
A super talent like trumpeterNicholas Payton could have easily coasted through a long, successful career by safely resting on his impressive laurels and never once rocking the boat musically or socially, thus remaining securely assured of achieving a prominent niche for himself.
"I have this day granted bargained and sold and by these present do grant bargain and sell unto the said Edward Clegg a Certain Mulatto Girl named Harriet aged about eight years. Slave for life, and sound in body and mind, and the title to said Girl I do hereby warrant and will forever defend."
Credit Courtesy of Todd Perry
Kate Byroade knew her family members had owned slaves. But that knowledge became even more troubling for Byroade when she learned that an ancestor once owned an 8-year-old child.
NPR continues a series of conversations about The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words. Every so often, NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris will dip into those six-word stories to explore issues surrounding race and cultural identity for Morning Edition.
Orion Martin reimagined several iconic X-Men covers, recasting the superheroes as people of color. The move sparked a discussion on race in comics, both on the page and in the writers' rooms.
Credit Orion Martin
As part of Orion Martin's project, <em>X-Men of Color</em>, he reimagined this famous <em>X-Men</em> cover by recoloring two characters as brown. This cover comes from a storyline in which mutants are being rounded up and exterminated by the government.
Credit Orion Martin
The similarities are <em>uncanny</em>. (See what we did there?)
Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 7:20 pm
The X-Men comic franchise has proven remarkably sturdy in the half-century since its launch. They've spawned dozens of animated series and four major Hollywood films with a fifth due out this summer. A big part of that is due to its central premise — a minority of superpowered humans called mutants are discriminated against by their government and fellow citizens — which has functioned as a sci-fi allegory for everything from the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis.
Let us say this first: The Golden Globes are Hollywood culture at its most purely self-perpetuating. Given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small group of journalists so gleefully obscure that there is usually a joke about how gleefully obscure they are, the Globes lack the gravitas of the Oscars, which is really saying something, given the fact that the Oscars lack the gravitas of the Tonys and the Tonys lack the gravitas of a halfway decent episode of Law & Order: SVU.
Today is Monday. That's when we do the show on the fly. We call it The Scramble and one of the twists we're trying is the reverse of ordinary public radio guest booking. Usually, we start with a topic and try to find the best possible guests. But, for one segment of The Scramble each week, we pick a guest we want to talk to and then ask him or her what the topic should be. The idea is to pick an interesting person and then find out what's on that person's mind right now.
This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Livehired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.
The year 2013 was not a great one for the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, with a collision, a major power outage, and, most recently a fatal derailment making the six o’clock news around the country. What this series of mishaps actually points out, however, is that when one considers the number of freight, passenger and commuter trains running in this country, rail travel is still a pretty safe way to get around. This was not the case a century or more ago, when railroad accidents and disasters were frequent and deadly.
NASA astronaut and Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio has been tweeting some brilliant photos of his home planet while aboard the International Space Station. Today, he tweeted this photo of the Elm City.
Governor Chris Christie's administration is under fire for ordering lane closures that blocked access to the George Washington Bridge for four days last September, indulging in an egomaniacal fantasy of vengeance against a political foe who refused to recognize the Christie administration's self-professed superiority.
Fifty years after his assassination, images of President John F. Kennedy continue to resonate as an expression of American culture and self-identity. A photography exhibition called "A Great Crowd Had Gathered: JFK in the 1960s" examines the president by way of his public at the time. It's at the Yale Art Gallery and runs through the end of March.
My two favorite film critics, A.O. Scott and David Edelstein, appear on the show today, and we've got a longer list of topics than we can possibly get to. I'm interested in the way a lot of the recent hit movies take little bites of our recent past: "Inside Llewyn Davis" tackles 1961. "American Hustle" bestrides the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s. "The Wolf of Wall Street" started with the Crash of '87 and pans forward into the 1990s. Suddenly, for Baby Boomers, the stretch of our living memory is a series of period pieces and costume dramas.
Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 11:25 am
In a society where success is pursued and celebrated above everything else, where media stars, sport champions and the very rich are idolized, failure is seen as an embarrassment, something we must avoid at all costs and, when we can't, must be hidden from everyone else.
From Faith Middleton Since cocktail parties have gone the way of the Dodo bird, try a hot chocolate party instead. Everybody loves it, and you're part of a long tradition—hot chocolate was reportedly served at Catholic mass in Spain ages ago. (And you thought folk mass was something?)
The Navigate Jacket from Wearable Experiments uses GPS navigation and a mapping app on the wearer's smartphone to signal directions. It's part of a new trend of wearable tech that some speculate will be a billion-dollar industry.
Credit Rupert Kaldor / Wearable Experiments
This black high-heeled shoe from Erogear has an LED band that can broadcast low-resolution images or even a Twitter feed.
For years, tech companies raced to make the smartphone a beautiful device with soft curves and bright screens. Now, the industry is racing to make clothes that free up your hands from the phone while still connecting you to streams of digital information.
Note: The web version of today's show (posted all the way at the bottom here) includes full, unedited, and unexpurgated film clips (which include some adult language) and runs more than four minutes longer than the show we did live on the air.
From Faith Middleton: If you saw When Harry Met Sally…, there was a wry, riveting exchange between the two main characters, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, sitting at a restaurant table, causing an observing customer to say, "I'll have what she's having."
I can't recall the detailed plot of that movie, but I will never forget that scene, and that's what drew all of us on our show to a new book by one of the great writers on film, David Thomson, film critic for The New Republic, and our interview guest.
When you think about what Downton Abbey has achieved, and is continuing to pull off, it's actually pretty remarkable. In an era when the most acclaimed TV series of the decade is an edgy cable drama about a dying, meth-making criminal, Downton Abbey draws similarly large audiences on broadcast TV — public TV, at that — with an old-fashioned soap opera about servants and household staffers and those they serve. As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television.
Today on The Scramble we lead off with some reporting that will be featured this week on a PBS' "Frontline" story, To Catch a Trader. It's the story of a federal probe into insider trading and the specific role of Connecticut's Steve Cohen, and his SAC hedge fund.