Hollywood sometimes has an image problem and recently leaked emails from Sony executives are not helping that image. Responses from some of those executives, including filmmaker Aaron Sorkin, may actually be making it even worse.
First and foremost, we're really sorry about the Wally Lamb cell phone connection. Do not adjust your radio (or streaming device).
It's the usual three-ring circus on the Scramble today starting with the five players for the St. Louis Rams who put their hands up in a "Don't Shoot" gesture during their introductions for Sunday's game. That gesture, of course, has become part of the iconography of the Ferguson Missouri story, and we talk to ESPN the Magazine's Howard Bryant about the role athletes play in raising consciousness and defying conventional news narratives.
On the Monday Scramble, we're all about helping you survive the holidays.
Let's say you've got a long -- maybe eight hours! -- drive ahead of you. God forbid you should talk. So what will you listen to? Audiobook? Podcast? Music? We know this married couple, Amanda and Neil. She's mostly a musician. He's mostly a writer. This hour, we imagine that eight-hour drive and let each of them program four hours of it.
Let's play a game. I'm going to name five things and you tell me what they are - "An Unnecessary Woman," "All the Light We Cannot See," "Redeployment," "Station Eleven," "Lila." They are the five fiction finalists for this year's National Book Award which will be given out this week. Don't feel bad if you didn't get the answer - I wouldn't have either. My connection to the nominees begins and ends with having picked up one of the five books from a table at - of all places - Whole Foods.
First up on the Scramble today, writer and thinker Nicholas Carr, whose new book, "The Glass Cage" is about our blind surrender to automation. Most tellingly about the way we surrender (unthinkingly) control to sophisticated computer tools.
You'll hear for instance, the story of a luxury cruise ship that ran aground on a sand bar because the GPS was spitting out wrong information and the entire crew ignored visual evidence that should have been a dead giveaway.
One of our guests today is Anne Helen Petersen, who left academia to write full-time about celebrities and television and celebrity gossip. One of the themes her first book, "Scandals of Classic Hollywood," is the history of Hollywood scandal so lets get my own theory out of the way.
Okay, I'm warning you. You're going to have to adjust the band on your thinking cap. Christian Bok, our first guest, is an experimental poet with some fascinating ideas, some of which will strike you as unfamiliar and maybe dissimilar to any other ideas you ever heard. In a nutshell, Bok is part of a small movement of thinkers and writers who want to revolutionize the way literature is produced, stored and consumed. For example, Bok has spent years trying to encode a poem into the DNA of a bacterium able to survive extreme conditions, like vacuums.
Talk to any demographer. Marriage is in irreversible decline. According to Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "Generation Unbound," 40% of young people are unmarried. Now, that doesn't mean people will stop getting married. You've been to a bunch of weddings this year. What it means is that marriage as a precondition to parenthood is no longer the established norm from which everything else is a deviation.
Ben Nadaff-Hafrey is also back, this time as our Scramble SuperGuest.
We start today with a conversation about the embrace of U2 by Apple, and end with a chat about embraces in general.
So, leading off earlier this month, Apple had one of its special events. When people stop what they're doing to watch a big company roll out a new product, in this case the iPhone 6, Don Draper would be drooling in envy, right?
Today's Scramble leads off with Annie Lowrey, who tackles a subject that's been dominating a lot of conversations around here lately. What's the matter with Connecticut? is the question Annie Lowrey asks in her weekend essay for New York Magazine. Isthere a collective malaise and is it based on economic factors? Annie notes that Connecticut has somehow managed to become both the richest and poorest economy in America--at the same time.
Mark Coddington from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin joins us to talk about how events like Ferguson are reported on social media. Facebook and Twitter are not equal in what and how they cover news. Assuming Twitter is the best place to get breaking news, how does Twitter change the way it's reported? How does it affect the work of the journalist trained to see the big picture but forced to focus on smaller, always breaking details? Does the urgency of Twitter discourage them from carefully checking facts? How should Twitter handle graphic images, such as last week's beheading?
We cover a lot of the ground on The Scramble this hour. We starting with Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker writer, who’s going to lead me through a conversation about proposals for a drastically reduced work week, about ways in which having more choices may actually reduce our sense of happiness and fulfillment, and about the illusion that we can taste something—wine, in this case —in a state of pure isolation and detachment from outside influences.
This hour's Scramble starts fun and gradually grows darker. We begin with David Rees, host of a television show in which he layers expertise onto simple acts like opening a door or making ice cubes. Its motto is "de-familiarizing the ubiquitous so as to increase our appreciation and wonder thereby." We can get behind that.
I'm pretty sure that in the summer of 1992, somebody tried to tell me about Monty Python's Flying Circus. I didn't get it, and there weren't that many chances to break in as a Python fan. Their actual television show didn't begin airing on public TV in America until October of 1974. Then, in the space of about two years, they changed the face of American comedy.
It's that time of year when nine people who were never elected decide all manner of questions about how we live. Monday marked the last round of Supreme Court decisions. By now, you probably know that in a five-four decision, they sided with Hobby Lobby in affirming the rights of employers to invoke their religious principles to opt out of the requirement to provide certain contraceptives otherwise mandated by Obamacare.
On Monday, we do The Scramble. And on the Scramble, we always start with a SuperGuest, which means that in defiance of public radio logic, we pick the person first and then figure out what the topics will be.
This week we started with June Thomas, one of my favorite Slate.com writers and talkers, and someone I assumed would want to riff at least a little bit about pop culture. Instead, her top two choices are Gay Pride month and dentistry.
Henry Alford is a very funny writer. I've been laughing at his writing since about 1990, when he erupted in Spy Magazine, with hilarious speculative pieces like, "What If The Pope Were A Dog?"
Not long ago, he was asked to review a collection by another funny writer, Garrison Keillor. He did it, keenly aware that many people who find him funny are the kinds of people who find Keillor tiresome. And, maybe a bigger problem, Keillor had written some columns about gays and atheists that riled up not just Alford's fans, but people he knows pretty well. So what's a critic to do? Alford actually admired some things about the book, and said so. There was pushback. We'll talk about that today on The Scramble.
Freakonomics god Stephen Dubner is our SuperGuest for today's Scramble, and he talks about how to think more rationally and creatively, the upside of quitting, and the latest studies on happiness. Then, we chat with sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, and WNPR's capital region reporter Jeff Cohen, on the value of publicly-funded sports arenas. What's the status on the possible building of a baseball stadium in Hartford? Is it a done deal? What else have we learned and expect to understand about what a business like that may do to the city?
Is college worth it? The news about higher education is mostly bad. Student loan debt is now $1 trillion and climbing. Underpaid, demoralized, and harassed adjunct faculty are taking on more and more of the teaching load. By many measures, college isn't doing its most important job: providing a ladder that young people with fewer advantages can climb.
College right now seems to be reinforcing class structure rather than loosening it up.
Into all of the above steps an optimist: Wesleyan president Michael Roth, who doesn't deny the problems, but insists that a liberal education is essential, and worth it. Despite the shift towards specialized courses of study, a liberal arts education is more important than ever.
We start today's show with Eric Deggans, NPR's first full-time TV critic. Eric and I have talked before about the issue of diversity in late night comedy programming and lo and behold, the very intriguing Larry Wilmore has been given his own show. So, we talk about that but Eric's main focus right now is a kind of television agrarian ritual, the unveiling of this year's crop of network shows, most of them to be harvested in the fall. A short description if you've been missing Matthew Perry, Patricia Arquette, Scott Bakula, Tea Leone and Katherine McPhee, just watch CBS.
This hour on The Scramble our superguest is David Folkenflik. I don't have to tell you who David Folkenflik is, do I? I mean, you're public radio listeners. The superguest always sets the agenda, and David wants to talk about new journalism start-ups like Vox, Five-Thirty Eight, First Look, and about what middle-aged digital brand names like Slate are doing to survive.
Dave Daley sees Sterling and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as part of a pattern. I don't. Not exactly, anyway. Dave also talks about Thomas Piketty, the first rock star economist in, well, a really long time.
The more I read about The Dallas Buyers Club, the less I like it, which is too bad because I really like that movie.
First, I read the that film's portrayal of Ron Woodruff, the hard-bitten homophobe who gradually softens is wrong. Woodruff was, according to friends and family, comfortably bisexual. He never had to go through the transition you see in the film.
Our SuperGuest on today's Scramble is Jen Doll, who has three topics that she wants to discuss:
The first is the return of "Mad Men," a show in its final season and perhaps more than any other TV show, a driver of the phenomenon that utilizes the talents of many, many cultural commentators to analyze and debate the underlying themes in each episode. If you visited a site like Slate or Salon on certain Monday mornings, you might make the mistake of thinking this was a publication mainly, or entirely about, "Mad Men."
Today on The Scramble, one of our favorite writers, A.J. Jacobs takes us deep inside the world of modern ancestry research where websites are all too happy to tell you that you're distantly related to Gwynyth Paltrow, Michael Bloomberg, Quincy Jones, and King David. Those are all actual examples of people A.J. was told are his relatives.