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【baby bingo game】As it happened - CWG, Day 8 (3 pm till close)

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2022-07-02 15:32:55

Jean Chen Ho's 'Fiona and Jane' is the story of true friendship : NPR******

'Fiona and Jane' is a life-sized story of true friendship

Ilana Masad

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Fiona and Jane,by Jean Chen Ho

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So many of us are thrown into friendships through sheer circumstance when we're children — proximity at school, parental friendships, a shared difference or minority identity — but as we grow older and begin to make our own choices about where we'll live, what we'll do with our time and who we'll spend it with, we lose touch. We drift, or we stop liking each other, or we get busy and forgetful.

The friendships that do survive feel precious, unlikely. One such is at the tender, beating heart of Jean Chen Ho's debut work of fiction, Fiona and Jane.

This isn't instantly obvious. The book's first two pieces focus on the titular Jane and then Fiona individually. "The Night Market" is narrated by Jane during a trip to Taiwan to see her father, who moved away from the family's home in Los Angeles for what was supposed to be only baby bingo gamea year, for work, but two and a half years later, he's still there and planning on renewing his contract. Fiona is mentioned briefly as Jane's best friend, and as the first girl she ever kissed ("that was just for practice, we'd said"), but the majority of the piece is about Jane and her family: her Taiwanese immigrant parents, her father's depression and the secret he shares with her when she visits, her mother's church, her own piano lessons with a tattooed woman named Ping.

The second piece, "The Inheritance," is closely focused on Fiona and her family. Born in Taiwan, Fiona was Ona first, adding the "Fi" because a white boy in Miss King's second-grade classroom (where she also met Jane) told her that Ona "wasn't a real name. She was new, and the boy spoke with authority, so she'd believed him." Fiona, who immigrated with her mother to California, never met her father, and not until graduating college, when she receives an inheritance from her grandfather, does she learn why.

These introductions to the girls' (later women's) families are helpful in setting the scene, showing us what they share in terms of background, language, and family, but it's the third piece, "Go Slow," where we really begin to see their friendship shine on the page. Their dynamic rings beautifully true. "Fiona always knew what to do," Jane tells us, and indeed, Fiona is the daring leader, ambitious and always up for adventure, pushing at the boundaries of her life. Jane, quieter when the two are teenagers, "cultivated mystery" and was called "Fiona's bodyguard behind [her] back." Regardless, they're close as best friends can be, getting drunk together for the first time, stealing money from church, driving around in a beat-up old car. Their friendship never feels saccharine, though, and they each have their secrets from each other: "some things, even between friends like they were, remained unspoken, passed over in silence."

Fiona is the one who leaves — first for college, then for New York City — while Jane stays put, has a series of encounters and relationships that often turn disastrous. During these years, they don't stay in constant touch, but each still has the other in the back of her mind, their formative experiences together having shaped their memories of what home and comfort mean. Both women are tough, in their own ways, and proud, preferring not to show weakness, but both experience hurt and heartbreak. Eventually, when Fiona moves back to LA, the two find each other again and pick up where they left off, as best they can. But there are still tensions between them, and there is always the sense that Jane needs Fiona just a little bit more than Fiona needs her.

Ho renders both women so real that they begin to feel like people you've encountered and hung out with. She also has a knack for rendering their darker, meaner thoughts, those they're sometimes ashamed of, with brutal honesty: "In truth, didn't [Fiona] believe her life, the choices she made possible for herself, superior to Jane's? The odd jobs Jane worked, and often lost, carelessly, after they graduated high school. Of course, Jane didn't really have to work, did she? Her mother always floated her money anyway." But they love one another, and this love comes through especially because they each are so independent and sometimes so lonely as well.

While Fiona and Jane sometimes feels quiet, it is never muted, and its precisely the fact that the women's trials and tribulations feel refreshingly life-sized that makes the book ring so beautifully, sometimes terribly, true.

Ilana Masad is an Israeli-American fiction writer, critic, and founder/host of the podcast The Other Stories. Her debut novel is All My Mother's Lovers.

Juhea Kim looks at the history of Korea's quest for independence : NPR's Book of the Day : NPR******

Language is power in 'Beasts of a Little Land'

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Language is power in 'Beasts of a Little Land'

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Juhea Kim's debut novel, Beasts of a Little Land, is about Korea's decades-long fight for independence and the lives it impacted. Kim wanted the novel to focus on people who often get overlooked, which is why one of the main characters in the novel is a courtesan, or a sex worker. Kim told NPR's Elissa Nadworny that "these characters show how we can live in a meaningful way, even when the world is falling apart, even when the sky is falling down."

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bible bingo game for adultsGraphic novelist Henry Barajas incorporates his own roots into his work : NPR******

For this Latinx graphic novelist, superheroes can be real. They can even be family

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Mia Estrada

For this Latinx graphic novelist, superheroes can be real. They can even be family

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An illustration of Henry Barajas and his great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, inthe graphic novelLa Voz De M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo.J. Gonzo hide caption

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An illustration of Henry Barajas and his great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, inthe graphic novelLa Voz De M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo.

J. Gonzo

Henry Barajas laughs when he describes how he pitched his recent Latinx fantasy book, Helm Greycastle.

"What if Mordor had a southside?" Barajas says. "What if the world of The Lord of the Ringshad a southside?"

The 32-year-old graphic novelist imagined a world where the Aztec Empire still stands and a group of misfit comrades come to the rescue of the last dragon prince.

In Helm Greycastle, Barajas wanted to depict characters he never really saw in theThe Lord of the Ringsor the game Dungeons and Dragons, some of his favorites growing up.

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An illustration fromHelm Greycastle.

Rahmat M. Handoko, Bryan Valenza and Becky Cloonan

"I wanted to create something that challenged the Eurocentric fantasy genre while making it organic — and also incorporating Mesoamerican history," he says.

Growing up near the border between the United States and Mexico, Barajas says he "had no idea about Mesoamerican history and was not taught that."

Now, he's trying to bring that history to his books.

Barajas lives in Los Angeles now, but his roots run deep in Tucson, Arizona. That's where he fell in love with comic books.

His family would watch Antiques Roadshowon PBS and see comic books sold for thousands of dollars. That led them to buy boxes of comics, thinking they would find something worth selling. Most of the time, they weren't worth much. But he dibingo game adultsd gain something else.

"That's how I got a lot of my morals," he says. He read about racism and crowded prisons in Spider-Man, mental health in Batmanand feminism in Wonder Woman. "Things that weren't in my regular studies as a child," he remembers.

By the time Barajas was 17, he was working as a bill collector to help his family. During and after work, he spent his time learning everything he could about comics.

By 23, he was working as a journalist at Arizona Daily Star. A few years later, he got the idea for his first big book.

"Growing up, my family would always tell me my great-grandfather did something amazing. But they really didn't go into detail [about] what that was," he says.

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An illustration of Henry Barajas' great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, depicted on the cover of graphic novelLa Voz De M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo.J. Gonzo hide caption

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An illustration of Henry Barajas' great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, depicted on the cover of graphic novelLa Voz De M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo.

J. Gonzo

Barajas dug into his family history and found that his great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, co-founded the organization Mexican American Yaqui and Others (M.A.Y.O.) in Tuscon, Arizona.

During the 1970s, the group pushed the Tucson City Council to improve conditions for members of the local Pascua Yaqui tribe – a group that's lived in the region for hundreds of years. Barajas says in 1978, his great-grandfather helped the tribe gain federal recognition.

"It's not an everyday thing where you can tell people that your great-grandfather helped one of the last Native American tribes gain federal recognition," he says.

All of this is chronicled in Barajas' 2019 graphic novel La Voz De M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo– which is all about the efforts of his great grandfather, who was nicknamed Tata Rambo.

Barajas says he feels proud to share his family history.

"It was really important for me to tell a story that was positive about the indigenous and migrant communities here in Tucson [and] in this country — and to shine a light on not only a civil rights activist, but a World War II veteran," he says.

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Graphic novelist Henry Barajas. Alfonso Carrion hide caption

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Graphic novelist Henry Barajas.

Alfonso Carrion

The graphic novel is now read by college students, sits in libraries and the Smithsonian gift shop and has earned Barajas spots to speak at comic conventions around the country. Now, he's giving advice to younger writers.

"It's all about just being a good person and telling your story," Barajas told guests at the San Diego Comic-Con in late November. "People want to hear your story."

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J. Gonzo, the illustrator of the book, still can't believe the success of it.

"It seems surreal," he says. "I can't get my head around it yet."

After years of trying to find his way as a writer, Barajas says he finally found his voice.

"I'm very lucky that people are paying attention and I get to use my comics to tell stories that I feel are important," Barajas says.

He recently worked on an Avengers comic for the city of New York, which encouraged young kids to get vaccinated.Now, he's working on a short project for DC Comics – showing others like him theycan be superheroes too.

【baby bingo game】As it happened - CWG, Day 8 (3 pm till close)

Actor Kal Penn went from stoner movies to the Obama administration : NPR******

Actor Kal Penn isn't afraid to take chances, on screen or in life

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Actor Kal Penn isn't afraid to take chances, on screen or in life

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Kal Penn speaks at the Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park on Sept. 28, 2019. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP hide caption

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Kal Penn speaks at the Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park on Sept. 28, 2019.

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In 2009, actor Kal Penn did something unexpected: He left his job as a cast regular on the popular TV show House to take a position in the Obama White House, serving as a junior staffer and liaison to arts communities, young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Penn had gotten his start acting in the stoner comedies Harold & Kumar Go to White Castleand National Lampoon's Van Wilder. He says he initially worried that he'd been hired by the Obama administration only because of his fame as an actor, but presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett disabused him of that notion.

"In true V.J. fashion, [she] gave me a look that we all know and love her for and said, 'I can assure you you're being hired in spite of it,' " Penn says. "And that was very meaningful to me."

Taking a hiatus from acting was a risk, but Penn was used to taking chances. When he was growing up in New Jersey as the child of immigrant parents, just becoming an actor had seemed like a rebellious choice. At family gatherings, he says, he dreaded being asked about his plans for the future.

"Almost everybody else's kids were doing something traditional," he says. Telling his parents' friends at gatherings that he wanted to be an actor resulted in something that "was almost like out of a comedy. It was like either a record scratch or you could hear pin-drop silence."

After working for the Obama administration for two years, Penn returned to Hollywood in 2011 and playedWhite House press secretary Seth Wright in the ABC series Designated Survivorand a former New York City councilman on the NBC sitcom Sunnyside. His new memoir, You Can't Be Serious, is a collection of stories about his life and career.

"When I was [in] my early 20s, there wasn't really a book that talked about what it was like to navigate Hollywood as a young man of color," he says. "And so I started putting these stories together mostly because of how happy I am that things have changed so much in Hollywood."


Interview highlights

On being asked to do a stereotypical Indian accent for a small role on the sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch — and confronting the director

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You Can't Be Serious, by Kal Penn

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I pled my case to him. I said, "Hey, man, I thank you for having me on the show. Thank you for the opportunity. The show was so funny." (I may have been embellishing there a little bit for his benefit.) ... I said, "I was wondering if there's any way that I could play this part without the accent?"

And he kind of cut me off and was dismissive. He said, "No, no, no, no. That's why we hired you. You're going to do that accent. It's funny."

And I remember thinking to myself, "They say that racism comes from ignorance, so maybe I should educate him?" Here I am in my early 20s on a TV set, and I said, "Hey, if I could, I have young cousins and they love watchingSabrina the Teenage Witch, and I know that they also haven't had the chance to watch somebody who just looks like us as Americans on-screen. I just thought it'd be a really cool opportunity if when they saw this, they would see a character that's not a stereotype and was just funny based on the merits."

It's a bit of a misnomer that racism only comes from ignorance; it can also come from a conscious maintenance of power and a desire to keep people down.

Kal Penn

And I remember this so clearly. He looked at me and he said, "Well, your cousins should feel lucky that you're allowed to be on TV to begin with. And so should you." And he walked off. And so I kind of got a lesson in, I think it's a bit of a misnomer that racism only comes from ignorance; it can also come from a conscious maintenance of power and a desire to keep people down.

On his breakthrough role of "Taj Mahal" in the teen sex comedy Van Wilderand what he calls the "Brown Catch-22"

[My agent] couldn't get me in the door for auditions that weren't written brown, and the only brown parts that were written were written to be fairly stereotypical. So her hope was that I would book a few of these in rapid enough succession that I could break out of the "Brown Catch-22" and prove to the town that I had merits as an artist outside of the confines of these types of roles. I ultimately decided to audition for this movie and wasn't sure if I was going to take it. ...

Two things happened in the final callback: One, I walked into the audition room knowing that there was going to be another guy who I was up against, and I walk in and it was a white dude in brownface that kind of caught me off guard. In those days, it was not uncommon, to be clear, to go to an audition and see white guys in brownface. I guess it's a little less common now, thankfully, but unfortunately [it] still happens. But I walked in there, and as soon as I saw him, I thought to myself, like, my beef is never with another actor in this case. I know the desperation of wanting to book a part. So I understood on some weird, bizarre level the desperation that he probably felt in wanting to book this part. But I also knew, like, bro, you're not allowed to play this part. You're just not. I'm getting this part — you're not allowed to do this.

So I had that motivation going into the audition. And then Ryan Reynolds was such a wonderful actor and so kind in that audition. He encouraged me to improvise. He's like, "I can tell you're really funny. Do you want to just improv some stuff?" And so he and I improvised a few of the scenes in that audition. I ended up booking it, and the agent turned out to be right.

On his most famous role, Kumar, in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

I wanted to play Kumar in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castlebecause it was the funniest script I had ever read in my life. I mean, I think that still holds true, actually. ... It was so funny — I laughed at every page, and I also was the right look or type for the part. I mean, it was a buddy comedy about two friends who go on this ridiculous quest for hamburgers after they get high. But also it was the first time that a studio had cast or would cast two Asian American men as the lead in a comedy. So all of that spoke to me when I read the script for the first time, and I just knew I had to play this part.

On disclosing in the book (to the surprise of many) that he is gay and has had a partner for 11 years

I certainly was not expecting all the love for Chapter 18, where I talk about my partner, Josh, and how we've been together for 11 years. ... I mentioned in that chapter ... [that] we're engaged, and I didn't think, obviously naively in retrospect, I didn't think that that would be kind of a newsworthy item, mostly because we've been together for 11 years.

There are things that I certainly haven't shared publicly in interviews out of respect to Josh, because he doesn't love the limelight. He's very similar to my parents and my brother in that regard. When we'd go to movie premieres or things like that, and all of them would always come to be supportive and always without fail go through a side door and say, "Go ahead — you do your red carpet stuff. We'll see you at the seats." But I think because we've been together for so long, again perhaps naively, I just didn't think that that would be of interest.

And I also remember when I made my speech at the DNC in 2012 and he and my parents were there and I talked about how I'm very proud of the president and vice president at the time for their stance on marriage equality. I sort of half-jokingly said, I think the phrase I used was, "As you know, the president's cool with all of us getting gay-married." By "all of us" I obviously meant myself as well. So I thought this was a fun story to share with people. I'm so glad it resonated that people had so much love for that love.

Lauren Krenzel and Seth Kelley produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Meghan Sullivan adapted it for the web.

A cacophony of city sounds in 'Everybody in the Red Brick Building' : NPR******

WaaaAAH! Rraak! 'Everybody in the Red Brick Building' is awake!

Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday Samantha Balaban

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WaaaAAH! Rraak! 'Everybody in the Red Brick Building' is awake!

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Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraEnlarge this image HarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraHarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray

In Everybody in the Red Brick Building,a howling Baby Izzie wakes up a squawking parrot, which wakes up a trio of flashlight tag-playing friends, who wake up a little girl who decides the middle of the night is the best time to set off her toy rocket, which wakes up a cat, who leaps onto a car, setting off the alarm. Soon, everyone in the apartment building is wide awake.

Author Anne Wynter says she based her debut children's book on her own experience living in the city, listening to a child sing Jingle Bells through the walls, or laughing along with a neighbor who was watching Parks and Recreationon TV.

"There's so many interesting things that happen in apartments," says Wynter. "And so, I just decided to try to write a book where the apartment building featured in prominently."

Everybody in the Red Brick Building is a cumulative story — like The House That Jack Built or There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly — it builds first to a cacophony of loud sounds.

WaaaAAH!

Rraak!

Pitter Patter STOMP!

Pssheew!

Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraEnlarge this image HarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraHarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray

And then, as the residents of the apartment building are lulled back to sleep by the sounds of the city, it builds again to a cacophony of quiet sounds.

shhhh shhhh

plonk plonk

ting ting

chhp chhp

Anne Wynter and illustrator Oge Mora say one of the best parts of this book has been reading it out loud and perfecting their parrot sounds. "I watched a lot of videos of parrots," says Wynter. "I feel like the more I read it, the more, perhaps, loud I get, the more exaggerated I get."

"It's just kind of really interesting to see each particular reader's approach," says Mora, who adds that she's also been experimenting with stamping her foot on the floor while reading "Pitter Patter STOMP!"

Everybody in the Red Brick BuildingHarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray hide caption

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Oge Mora illustrated Everybody in the Red Brick Building with collage art. There are painted papers and old book scraps. Mora even scanned a bathroom tile and used that to make a striped shirt for one of the kids in the book.

"That's really what I love about collage," she says. "There are no rules to it. And it just really gives you room to play and incorporate a lot of different materials and styles."

Each room in the book has its own color — Baby Izzie's room is pink, Rayhan's is green, Natalia's is yellow — so as everyone wakes up and the cacophony of sounds builds, the building itself lights up like a rainbow.

Wynter and Mora didn't collaborate one-on-one for this book. Wynter, who is also a playwright, says she was happy to write the text and then pass the baton to Mora.

"I had no idea what illustrations would even look like," she says. "I was picturing real people doing this. I was picturing it like I was writing a play ... And then it's wonderful to be so pleasantly surprised at the end of the process when you're like, this is more than I could have ever, ever pictured in my mind."

Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraEnlarge this image HarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraHarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray

Mora, who is also an author (her debut picture book Thank You, Omu! was a Caldecott Honor book), says she loves illustrating books by authors who give her the creative freedom to play. "Even though we didn't know each other, I did always feel throughout that we were on the same page," she says.

At the end of the book, Baby Izzie is rocked back to sleep in her mother's arms, listening to the:

pah-pum

pah-pum

pah-pum

of her heart. Both Wynter and Mora say that this is their favorite page.

"I had been struggling a lot with that page," says Mora. Her illustrations are usually more simple, on the cartoonish side, and it was hard to convey the heartfelt moment at the end of this story. Until one day when she was flipping through photos on her phone, Mora found one of her sister holding her new nephew, Chiji (whom she thinks would love this book), and that became her inspiration.

"It was interesting collaging or working on this book during the pandemic, and being so far away from my own family and the things that kind of keep me whole and keep me really motivated," says Mora. Everybody in the Red Brick Building reminded her of that same kind of community, she says, "of how special those moments we have with each other are."

Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraEnlarge this image HarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray Everybody in the Red Brick Building, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Oge MoraHarperCollins Children's Books/Balzer + Bray

Wynter says the last page is her favorite because she, too, saw her family on the page. When she was writing it, her child was about the same age as Baby Izzie.

"I didn't know what each of these groups of people would look like. And so getting to that part and seeing a Black mother with her Black child ... I love it. It meant so much to me."

She says she hopes this book provides a comfort to both children and parents reading it.

"That's what I always look for in picture books," she says. "You want to feel that sense of OK. Even if we're all awake in the middle of the night and I'm tired, we will get back to sleep, and we will get some rest and it will all be OK."

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Elise Bryant's 'One True Loves' is a fun tale that mixes with issues of ace : NPR******

'One True Loves' stirs a journey to a successful future with a bit of love

Alethea Kontis

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One True Loves,by Elise Bryant

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While resting during the holidays, I sat down with Elise Bryant's delightful new book full of love, laughter, and glamorous international travel — One True Loves. I had just returned from my own epic adventure to Egypt and it was a joy to prolong re-entry into real life with her story of love found on a European cruise.

Bryant's book takes place the summer after Lenore Bennett graduates from a Los Angeles arts high school, as she and and her family embark on a cruise around the Mediterranean. Brilliant, resilient Lenore will start school at NYU in the fall, if she can manage to get the sour look off her face every time it's mentioned. Her parents have instilled in their three bright children the idea that young Black professionals do not have the luxury of waffling before college — but Lenore has yet to nail down a specific discipline for her major. They demand a straight answer about her future before the 12-day cruise is over, for her own good, they say.

Lenore's optimistic best friend Tessa, meanwhile, envisions a whirlwind European romance for Lenore and orders her to throw coins in the Tivoli fountain in Rome: one for a safe journey, and a second for love. Lenore, having just escaped being the "other woman" in a nightmare relationship scenario, thinks this is ridiculous. Love just isn't meant to happen for her. But she throws in the coins anyway because she's there — and because Tessa says everyone deserves a happy ending.

Cue handsome fellow – and cruise mate — Angeleno Alex Lee.

The crew sit Alex and his parents at the Bennett's table for dinner. Of course, both sets of parents immediately hit it off and decide to spend the rest of the trip together. At first, Lenore thinks this isn't so great, as her initial encounter with Alex was strange and less than friendly. In Lenore's eyes, he's is a jerk with a perfect 20-year plan that her parents adore.

As the days pass, though, Lenore moves beyond her initial judgement and gets to know Alex for the kind, thoughtful person he is. Alex also seizes the opportunity learn more about Lenore, quickly realizing that beneath her sassy, audacious, fashionable exterior lies a creative and emotional young woman who might just need a little more time to figure out exactly what she wants from life. Being a planner, Alex takes it upon himself help Lenore answer the burning question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

One True Lovesis a fantastic tale full of shenanigans, escapades, and lighthearted banter, while also delving into deeper issues of race and the perception of the successful futures of young people of color. For all Lenore's hilarious snark, she is surrounded by a devoted family who loves her, including her genius little sister and her distracted older brother. But parental pressure and workaholism, however well-meant, can still sometimes lead to dangerous consequences.

One True Lovesis a great way to ring in a new year full of possibilities. Bryant elegantly reminds us that the rest of the world is still out there — and that adventure awaits.

Alethea Kontis is a voice actress and award-winning author of over 20 books for children and teens.

Jean Chen Ho's 'Fiona and Jane' is the story of true friendship : NPR******

'Fiona and Jane' is a life-sized story of true friendship

Ilana Masad

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Fiona and Jane,by Jean Chen Ho

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So many of us are thrown into friendships through sheer circumstance when we're children — proximity at school, parental friendships, a shared difference or minority identity — but as we grow older and begin to make our own choices about where we'll live, what we'll do with our time and who we'll spend it with, we lose touch. We drift, or we stop liking each other, or we get busy and forgetful.

The friendships that do survive feel precious, unlikely. One such is at the tender, beating heart of Jean Chen Ho's debut work of fiction, Fiona and Jane.

This isn't instantly obvious. The book's first two pieces focus on the titular Jane and then Fiona individually. "The Night Market" is narrated by Jane during a trip to Taiwan to see her father, who moved away from the family's home in Los Angeles for what was supposed to be only a year, for work, but two and a half years later, he's still there and planning on renewing his contract. Fiona is mentioned briefly as Jane's best friend, and as the first girl she ever kissed ("that was just for practice, we'd said"), but the majority of the piece is about Jane and her family: her Taiwanese immigrant parents, her father's depression and the secret he shares with her when she visits, her mother's church, her own piano lessons with a tattooed woman named Ping.

The second piece, "The Inheritance," is closely focused on Fiona and her family. Born in Taiwan, Fiona was Ona first, adding the "Fi" because a white boy in Miss King's second-grade classroom (where she also met Jane) told her that Ona "wasn't a real name. She was new, and the boy spoke with authority, so she'd believed him." Fiona, who immigrated with her mother to California, never met her father, and not until graduating college, when she receives an inheritance from her grandfather, does she learn why.

These introductions to the girls' (later women's) families are helpful in setting the scene, showing us what they share in terms of background, language, and family, but it's the third piece, "Go Slow," where we really begin to see their friendship shine on the page. Their dynamic rings beautifully true. "Fiona always knew what to do," Jane tells us, and indeed, Fiona is the daring leader, ambitious and always up for adventure, pushing at the boundaries of her life. Jane, quieter when the two are teenagers, "cultivated mystery" and was called "Fiona's bodyguard behind [her] back." Regardless, they're close as best friends can be, getting drunk together for the first time, stealing money from church, driving around in a beat-up old car. Their friendship never feels saccharine, though, and they each have their secrets from each other: "some things, even between friends like they were, remained unspoken, passed over in silence."

Fiona is the one who leaves — first for college, then for New York City — while Jane stays put, has a series of encounters and relationships that often turn disastrous. During these years, they don't stay in constant touch, but each still has the other in the back of her mind, their formative experiences together having shaped their memories of what home and comfort mean. Both women are tough, in their own ways, and proud, preferring not to show weakness, but both experience hurt and heartbreak. Eventually, when Fiona moves back to LA, the two find each other again and pick up where they left off, as best they can. But there are still tensions between them, and there is always the sense that Jane needs Fiona just a little bit more than Fiona needs her.

Ho renders both women so real that they begin to feel like people you've encountered and hung out with. She also has a knack for rendering their darker, meaner thoughts, those they're sometimes ashamed of, with brutal honesty: "In truth, didn't [Fiona] believe her life, the choices she made possible for herself, superior to Jane's? The odd jobs Jane worked, and often lost, carelessly, after they graduated high school. Of course, Jane didn't really have to work, did she? Her mother always floated her money anyway." But they love one another, and this love comes through especially because they each are so independent and sometimes so lonely as well.

While Fiona and Jane sometimes feels quiet, it is never muted, and its precisely the fact that the women's trials and tribulations feel refreshingly life-sized that makes the book ring so beautifully, sometimes terribly, true.

Ilana Masad is an Israeli-American fiction writer, critic, and founder/host of the podcast The Other Stories. Her debut novel is All My Mother's Lovers.

Judy Garland at 100: What to watch and listen to : NPR******

Judy Garland at 100: A starter guide beyond the Yellow Brick Road

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It's safe to say The Wizard of Oz has been an entry point to Judy Garland for many generations. It's hard to imagine it any other way; encountering the movie as a child could almost be a rite of passage, and Garland's performance as Dorothy remains indelibly embedded in popular culture more than 80 years later.

But the powerhouse entertainer born Frances Ethel Gumm famously (and luckily, for us) had so much more to give audiences over the course of her relatively short and tumultuous life. Her musical catalog is stacked with songs she introduced or made her own, and they aren't all "Over the Rainbow." (One among them has become a certified Christmas classic.) In adulthood, she'd garner Oscar nominations and Grammy wins, and shine in performances alongside other contemporary greats, like Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis, Jr. And her artistry, vulnerability, and perseverance under the unforgiving glare of the industry and public eye firmly established her as a queer icon.

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Though she died at 47 in 1969 from what was ruled an accidental barbiturate overdose, she's remained in the public consciousness through biopics (including 2019's Judy, which earned Renée Zellweger her second Oscar), movie and TV show needle drops, drag queens, and even Tik Tok.

And so in 2022, Judy Garland endures, for a myriad of reasons beyond The Wizard of Oz. This month marks the centennial of her birth – the perfect occasion for the Garland-curious to finally diveinto her work and unpack what made her so special, then and now. Movie retrospectives are happening, and YouTube has a plethora of clips to comb through; here's a guide to help jumpstart you on your journey beyond the yellow brick road.

The beginning: little girl, big voice

Every Sunday (1936)

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By the time Garland was signed to a contract with MGM Studios in 1935 at the young age of 13, she'd already been in show business for almost her entire life, having worked the vaudeville circuit in an act alongside her two older siblings, performing as the Gumm Sisters. This short film catches her on the precipice of stardom, showcasing her powerful vibrato and effervescent stage presence via a song written specifically for her, "The Americana." Fun fact: It was designed by the studio as a screen test for the executives to decide whether to keep Garland or her co-star, Deanna Durbin, a classically trained opera singer. Ultimately, Garland would stay on and Durbin would sign with Universal Studios.

A star is born

By 1946, a decade into her tenure at MGM, the 24-year-old Garland had made more than 20 films. They feature wonderful performances by her, but also come with asterisks for those who may be new to her work and/or to the rhythms of classic filmmaking in general. Like many musicals of its era, Strike Up the Bandprimarily exists to string a bunch of rousing numbers together, which may or may not be your bag. And like many performers of her era, Garland's legacy does include unfortunate instances of blackface, in Everybody Singand Babes In Arms.

Start with these signature roles from her MGM years instead:

Meet Me In St. Louis(1944)

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She had many peaks throughout her career, and this is one of them. Garland plays Esther Smith, one of the eldest daughters in a prominent family living in St. Louis at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Through modern eyes, it's a movie with very low stakes drama – the primary source of conflict is the family's displeasure with the news they'll be uprooted from their hometown to move to New York City, where a new job awaits the father, played by Leon Ames. But to paraphrase Liza Minnelli, Garland's oldest daughter, it's all about the feelings conveyed. And here, in one of her early transitions away from child roles, Garland give us all the feelings as an assertive, vivacious young woman determined to stay in St. Louis and catch the eye of the clueless boy next door.

Easter Parade (1948)

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Try to ignore the awkward age gap between Garland and her onscreen love interest Fred Astaire (23 years!) and enjoy their chemistry as a song-and-dance team in their only onscreen pairing. Astaire plays Don Hewes, a vaudeville star whose girlfriend and dance partner Nadine Hale (Ann Miller) breaks the news that she's leaving him to pursue solo stardom. (This occurs on Easter Sunday, hence the title.) Hoping to make Nadine jealous, he hires chorus girl Hannah Brown (Garland) and vows to turn her into a star. The songs were written by Irving Berlin, and standouts include the silly tramp number "A Couple of Swells" and the torch song "Better Luck Next Time."

Summer Stock (1950)

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By all accounts, Garland's life was a shambles and her behavior behind the scenes erratic during production of this movie, her last before she was fired by MGM. Yet that's imperceptible here, because she's as plucky and game as ever, playing Jane, a farm owner who allows her sister's theater troupe to rehearse in her barn. (Why yes, this is quite literally a barnyard musical.) Gene Kelly is her co-star, and Garland holds her own alongside him on the dance floor. And of course, there's the oft-referenced highlight: That black fedora and tuxedo jacket, and Judy slinking along to the irresistible "Get Happy."

The drama queen

The Clock (1945)

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It was extremely rare for a Garland performance not to call upon her to belt at least one tune, but she could sell a straight performance just as well as she could a song. In The Clock, she plays a woman who meets and falls in love with a soldier, played by Robert Walker, who's on 48-hour leave in New York City. As directed by Vincente Minnelli, the movie effectively captures the whirlwind romance and tension that grows out of their initial meet-cute in the middle of Penn Station, and Garland imbues the role with a quiet, radiating warmth.

This was her second collaboration with Minnelli (following Meet Me in St. Louis) and by this point they were already romantically involved; they'd marry the same year this movie was released. The director's admiration of Garland is evident in the way he frames her soft, ethereal close-ups.

A Star Is Born (1954)

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Versions of A Star Is Bornhave come before and after Garland's turn, but this remains the definitive iteration, perhaps because it so closely parallels aspects of its star's life. Here she plays Esther Blodgett, a talented singer-turned movie star whose career and marriage are threatened by the presence of an addiction – except said addiction is not her own, but that of her alcoholic husband, the fading screen idol Norman Maine (James Mason). This is top-tier Garland, a performance steeped in pathos and vulnerability that will shake you to your core; she pours every fiber of her being into this tragic character, whether she's belting an indelible torch ballad, working up a sweat in a 15-minute showstopping medley, or describing the helpless, lonely feeling of loving someone who's slowly self-destructing before your eyes.

Judy in retrospect

Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961)

This live album has been called "the greatest night in show business history" for a reason. It's Garland, following a particularly dark period in her life, flourishing in one of the only environments where she ever seemed truly at peace – live, unfiltered, on a stage, with her audience. And the audience adores her; you can hear it in their effusive laughs whenever she tells a self-deprecating joke and in their rapturous chants for encores. Her voice, more rugged and raw than in her younger years, sounds fabulous, and as she moves through her hits and beloved standards, each one is reimagined in the process. "Over the Rainbow" has never sounded more achingly wistful than it does here; "The Man That Got Away" somehow feels even bigger and more unstoppable than it did in A Star Is Born. You will listen once, and then, surely, you'll want to listen again, and again.

"Judy Sings Lena Sings Judy," The Judy Garland Show(1963)

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"Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again," The Judy Garland Show (1963)

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The Judy Garland Show was short-lived – it was canceled after one season – but there are countless gems to be found streaming online. Two of the best moments find Garland dueting with another powerhouse female vocalist, Lena Horne and then-newcomer Barbra Streisand. In the former, the legends take turns singing each other's biggest hits, and it's an utter delight to see how their styles contrast, like Horne's slinky, exaggerated take on "Meet Me in St. Louis" ("I didn't know it was a sexy song!" Garland exclaims while bowling over with laughter) and Garland's hep vibrato over "Honeysuckle Rose." When they come together in unison for a spirited rendition of Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin's standard "Love," the energy is so high it can hardly be contained.

And then, of course, there's the Babs. Mashing up "Get Happy" and "Happy Days Are Here Again," their voices complement each other beautifully – Streisand's clean and clear vocals dance lightly over Judy's more guttural tones for most of the song, but then their bravados meld together in a triumphant climax. It's been called a passing of the torch, as it were, from one (gay) icon to the next, and everything about it is perfect.


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'1982' explores the complexities of love and war in Lebanon : NPR******

'1982' explores the complexities of love and war in Lebanon

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'1982' explores the complexities of love and war in Lebanon

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Mohamad Dalli (as Wissam) and Gia Madi (as Joanna) in the film "1982."

1982

1982isn't your typical war film.

It's a love story set during growing tensions in the Middle East, when Israel invaded Lebanon 40 years ago. Lebanese filmmaker Oualid Mouaness, inspired by his own memories, wrote the script and directed the film.

He was 10 years old, attending an idyllic school in the Beirut suburbs, when the war changed life as he knew it. "I do remember everything being so beautiful and everything sort of changing," Mouaness tells Morning Edition.

"I remember that afternoon when the dogfights were going on in the sky. That's when my brother who was younger than me just completely lost it and started yelling at us to go inside because he thought the airplanes were going to fall on us," he says.

The invasion happened against the backdrop of a city divided, between a mostly Muslim West Beirut and a predominately Christian East Beirut.

Mouaness bases 1982 at a school much like the one he attended. The film is set in the mountains of Lebanon and the school is picturesque. It's religiously mixed, the kids switch seamlessly from Arabic to English to French and they're not yet indoctrinated into the adult world of religious and ideological divides.

Much of the story revolves around 11-year old Wissam and what it means to live in a place separated by checkpoints. As the fear of war looms, Wissam is consumed by a crush on a girl in his class – something that the filmmaker remembers experiencing from his own childhood.


Interview highlights

On the filmmaker's own memories of 1982:

We went to school. It was a normal school day and then all of a sudden literally the war got too close to home sonically, the sounds of airplanes just became very constant. And then as they got louder and louder really the teachers could not hide it anymore. And even though we had the sense that we weren't going to get bombed per se, everything was so invasive in terms of the sound and the nature and the country, that we had to be sent home.

I was fortunate to be in a very mixed school in Lebanon at the time which was not very common. There were all religions in my school. There were kids from both sides of the divide – West and East Beirut. Those kids who came from West Beirut, would have to go through checkpoints to get to the school. What became very clear that day is suddenly all the crossings were shut down and the kids could not go back to their homes in West Beirut. Nobody could get through on the phone lines.

On seeing war through the eyes of teachers and students:

It was emotional for the teachers. It was emotional for the kids. It was a separation between the adult world and the kids world. As kids, we don't really care and this film really goes there. We don't really care if someone is a Muslim or a Christian. They're our playmates. We feel the same. We can love each other. We can do everything together. As the adult world sort of starts to infringe on the children's world, you get to see the separation.

It's the first time that the kids realize that now there are things that are going to separate us and differentiate us as we grow up. And the world of adults in any war is a very contaminated world. It's a world that's driven by ideology, by religion, by social mores. In most parts of the world, there is the left and the right.

For Wissam's teacher Yasmine, her brother is on the right. The man she is in love with is on the left. And she loves both of them and she's in the middle of it – which is really a reflection of almost every mother in Lebanon at the time and in this case you have the character of Yasmine, Nadine Labaki's character, really finding herself in the midst of this polemic, of this division in Lebanon that is very important and she is trying to bring it together.

On love trumping political divides:

As you grow up, you're sort of forced by society and by politics to take sides. And fear. The young kid is fearless. His brother has fear. He doesn't. And that's why his brother tells him 'Are you crazy. You want to go to West Beirut?' And Wissam doesn't care because he's not afraid. For him, being able to profess and see this girl is more important than anything that could come between them including a war or a checkpoint.

On the significance of using magical realism:

I knew this is where the film needed to end. This is a film about kids and about hope. Kids have unfettered imagination and they see a world differently. In this case, there are so many reasons that I felt 100-percent, this is how I should leave the audience. As beautiful as the narrative is, it gets really tough for the viewer – that I felt that if I managed to have the viewer be Wissam, then they would feel what I felt in the necessity of this which is basically to dream.

With 'Jurassic World Dominion,' a franchise roars to a close : Pop Culture Happy Hour : NPR******

With 'Jurassic World Dominion,' a franchise roars to a close

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With 'Jurassic World Dominion,' a franchise roars to a close

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Chris Pratt plays Owen Grady in Jurassic World Dominion.

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Jurassic World Dominionis the sixth and reportedly final film in the Jurassic film franchise, in which genetically engineered dinosaurs run dependably amok in the modern world. This film brings together Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard with Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern, the three leads of the film that started it all — 1993's Jurassic Park.

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'Crimes of the Future' is a gut check : Pop Culture Happy Hour : NPR******

'Crimes of the Future' is a gut check

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'Crimes of the Future' is a gut check

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Crimes of the Futuremarks director David Cronenberg's return to the body horror genre. The film is set in a dystopian future where humans no longer feel pain, as they are evolving to adapt to a world riddled with synthetic chemicals. Viggo Mortensen stars as a man who spontaneously grows new organs. Together with his partner, played by Léa Seydoux, he turns the tattooing, surgical removal and display of these organs into performance art.

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Celebrating Judy Garland, beyond the 'Rainbow' : Pop Culture Happy Hour : NPR******

Celebrating Judy Garland, beyond the 'Rainbow'

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Celebrating Judy Garland, beyond the 'Rainbow'

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This Friday would have been Judy Garland's 100th birthday. Everyone of course knows her iconic portrayal of Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz, but Garland delivered a variety of unforgettable performances over her variously triumphant, troubled and ultimately tragic life. If you're not familiar with her non-Oz-related work, here is a guide that speaks to her unique and enduring appeal.

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'Fire Island' is Joel Kim Booster's queer twist on 'Pride and Prejudice' : It's Been a Minute : NPR******

Joel Kim Booster on making a queer, Asian American 'Pride and Prejudice'

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Joel Kim Booster on making a queer, Asian American 'Pride and Prejudice'

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The first time Joel Kim Booster vacationed on New York's Fire Island with his friend, comedian Bowen Yang, he brought with him Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudiceas a beach read. Over the years, he'd often joke with friends about making a gay version of the novel. Today Booster is the writer and star of Hulu's Fire Island, a queer, Asian romcom based on Austen's classic, set in the titular gay vacation spot. Booster talks with guest host Elise Hu about how the film honors his queer friendships, subverts hetero romcom norms, and tells a personal story that feels universal.

This episode was produced by Liam McBain. It was edited by Jessica Mendoza and Tamar Charney. Engingeering help came from Robert Rodriguez. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at IBAM@npr.org.

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Paramount Pictures faces copyright lawsuit over 'Top Gun: Maverick' : NPR******

Paramount Pictures faces copyright lawsuit over 'Top Gun: Maverick'

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Paramount Pictures faces copyright lawsuit over 'Top Gun: Maverick'

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Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick.

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While Top Gun: Maverickcontinues to fly high at the box office, a lawsuit over the rights to the movie just landed at Paramount Pictures.

The family of the man whose magazine article inspired the 1986 film Top Gunis suing Paramount Pictures over copyright infringement claims.

Shosh and Yuval Yonay – the widow and son of Ehud Yonay – say they exercised their right to recover the copyright to the story in 2018 and that it took effect in 2020. Paramount did not reacquire the film rights before releasing Top Gun: Maverick, the plaintiffs say.

"On January 24, 2020, the copyright to the Story thus reverted to the Yonays under the Copyright Act, but Paramount deliberately ignored this, thumbing its nose at the statute," said the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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Movies you missed: 'Top Gun'

Paramount, in a statement to NPR, vowed to fight the lawsuit. "These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously," the statement read.

In 1983, California magazine published an article by Ehud Yonay called "Top Guns," which told the story of Navy pilots "in a remarkably vivid and cinematic fashion," according to the lawsuit. Paramount secured the film rights to the article weeks later, and the blockbuster film Top Gun was released in 1986.

The Yonays say they've opted to recover the rights to the copyright, which they are permitted to do under the law after 35 years.

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'Top Gun: Maverick' puts Tom Cruise back in the cockpit, 36 years later

That part of the law gives authors the ability to "financially benefit from their creations and participate in some meaningful way in the fruits of their labor," said Marc Toberoff, the family's attorney.

Such a move would not prevent Paramount from continuing to distribute works created when they owned the copyright, such as Top Gun, but it would require the studio to obtain the rights again if it wanted to produce any other films based on Yonay's story after the copyright expired, the family claims.

"They were silent," Toberoff said of the studio. "They did not even attempt for any sum of money to relicense the rights to the story."

According to the lawsuit, Paramount responded to a cease-and-desist letter sent by the Yonays in May denying that Top Gun: Maverickwas "obviously derivative" of Yonay's magazine story and arguing that the film was "sufficiently completed" by January 24, 2020.

The Yonays allege that work on Top Gun: Maverickdidn't wrap up until 2021, one year after they claim the film rights were no longer owned by Paramount.

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TV and movie music supervisors are looking to unionize : NPR******

TV and movie music supervisors are looking to unionize

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Kate Bush's recent resurgence due to her placement in the latest season of Stranger Things is just one example of what a music supervisor brings to a production.

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For an example of what a music supervisor can achieve, just look at the moment Kate Bush is having right now. After her song "Running Up That Hill" was played on the most recent season of the Netflix hit Stranger Things, the song found new life on the charts, and has elicited a rare response from Bush herself. None of that could have happened without a music supervisor (Nora Felder, in this case).

Now music supervisors are looking to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE. According to IATSE, 75% of film and television music supervisors have signed authorization cards to join the union. The union says music supervisors want to standardize pay rates in order to tackle discrimination and disparities; gain access to healthcare and retirement plans; and negotiate with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which has not voluntarily recognized the union.

Music supervisors handle a number of different production aspects. They advise on what music best fits a scene (or find someone to write it), deal with licensing logistics, and work with other departments to figure out how exactly the music will be used.

"They work with the creative heads to craft an overall soundscape and help tell the story using music," said music supervisor Joel C. High. He is the president of the Guild of Music Supervisors, a group that advocates for the craft of music supervisors, but is not a union.

Like many workers across many industries, from video game developers to hair and make up artists, music supervisors started talking seriously about unionizing at the onset of the pandemic.

"Nobody knew what was going to happen" said High. "We didn't have any protections, and so there was a lot of fear in our membership that we were just left out in the cold, and nobody was going to be looking out for us."

NPR has reached out to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for comment.

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Jennifer Lopez and 'Spider-Man' lead the cheers at MTV's Movie & TV Awards

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Jennifer Lopez accepts the generation award at the MTV Movie and TV Awards on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.

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LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Lopez made an emotional speech about how believers and skeptics contributed to her success, as she accepted a career achievement honor at the MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday.

"I want to thank the people who gave me joy and the ones who broke my heart — the ones who were true and the ones who lied to me," said Lopez, who nabbed this year's Generation Award for actors whose diverse contributions have made them household names. She also took home best song — a new category — for the track "On My Way" from the "Marry Me" soundtrack.

MTV's youth-focused celebration of film and TV offered a lighter, breezier awards show, with 26 categories in gender-neutral categories like best villain, best kiss and new category "here for the hookup." Hosted by Vanessa Hudgens, the ceremony returned to a live format after being pre-recorded for several years.

'I Want My MTV': A Deep Dive Into The Channel's Early Years

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'I Want My MTV': A Deep Dive Into The Channel's Early Years

Lopez shed tears as she thanked fans, her longtime manager and children for "teaching me to love," bringing the audience to their feet at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.

"I want to thank the people who gave me this life," said Lopez, 52, later adding, "You're only as good as the people who you work with. But if you're lucky, they make you better. I've been very lucky in that regard."

Lopez's first breakthrough came as a dancer on the 1990s sketch comedy series "In Living Color." She pursued an acting career and landed a leading role in "Selena" in 1997. She would go on to appear in such films including "Anaconda," "Out of Sight," "The Wedding Planner," "Hustlers" and her latest, "Marry Me."

As a singer, Lopez has earned success on the pop and Latin charts with multiple hit songs and albums. She released her multi-hit debut "On the 6" in 1999 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with songs like "If You Had My Love," "All I Have" and the remixes of "I'm Real" and "Ain't It Funny."

And in 2020, Lopez performed during the Super Bowl halftime show alongside Shakira.

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" entered the awards as the leading nominee with seven. It took home best movie, and the film's star Tom Holland won for best performance in a movie. With almost $1.9 billion earned at the box office, it was the biggest film of the year and a fan favorite, but was largely overlooked by the major awards shows.

Zendaya won for best performance in a show for her role in "Euphoria," which came away with best show. The HBO series also won here for the hookup.

Early in the broadcast, 19-year-old singer Olivia Rodrigo won best music documentary for her project "Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u." Rodrigo, who won three Grammys this year including best new artist, spoke about the importance of creating the film, which involves a road trip, live performances and reflections on her debut album "Sour."

"I made 'driving home 2 u' for the fans, especially those who couldn't come to see me on tour," Rodrigo said.

Jack Black also received a career achievement award, Comic Genius. He ran onstage and seemed almost out of breathe before giving his acceptance speech.

"I need a little blast of oxygen," he said before rattling off several films he starred in, like "School of Rock" and two "Jumanji" films. He played in other comedies including "Shallow Hal," "Tropic Thunder" and the animated "Kung Fu Panda" franchise films, where Black voiced the main character.

"Comedic genius. C'mon are you kidding? For what?" he said. "I don't deserve this, but I'll take it."

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Awkwafina presents the comedic genius award to Jack Black at the MTV Movie and TV Awards. Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP hide caption

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Awkwafina presents the comedic genius award to Jack Black at the MTV Movie and TV Awards.

Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The ceremony kicked off with "Loki" star Sophia Di Martino winning breakthrough performance for her role as Sylvie on the Disney Plus television series. After the actor claimed her trophy, she talked about being 9 months pregnant when she was offered the role, and her baby being just 3 months old when she started filming.

"It's been quite the journey, so this really means a lot to me," she said. "Thank you to the audience. It's all for you. Thank you for letting Sylvie into your imaginations."

Daniel Radcliffe won best villain for his portrayal of a billionaire in the adventure comedy "The Lost City."

Diplo and Swae Lee performed "Tupelo Shuffle" from the upcoming "Elvis" biopic from director Baz Luhrmann.

Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival showcases actors like Pepe Serna : NPR******

Actor Pepe Serna wasn't interested in becoming a star. He just wanted to work

Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday Mandalit del Barco (square - 2015)

Mandalit del Barco

Actor Pepe Serna wasn't interested in becoming a star. He just wanted to work

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Character actor Pepe Serna has appeared in dozens of films and hundreds of TV shows since the 70s. Pepe Serna: Life is Art hide caption

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Character actor Pepe Serna has appeared in dozens of films and hundreds of TV shows since the 70s.

Pepe Serna: Life is Art

You may have seen Pepe Serna's mischievously rugged face in many films and TV shows over the last 50 years.

In Scarface, Serna played Tony Montana's Cuban drug dealer buddy, who met his demise by a rival's chainsaw. In Car Wash, he acted with George Carlin and Richard Pryor. He was Punk #1 in The Jerkwith Steve Martin and Edward James Olmos' brother on the run in The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez. Now he's the star of a documentary about his life and career, Pepe Serna: Life is Art.

Filmmaker Luis Reyes said Pepe Serna dispelled stereotypes. Even so, Serna recalls earlier in his career he had many roles where he had to kill or be killed.

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"He's been working consistently since the '70s and that's a difficult task for any actor, much less a Latino actor," said showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellet.

In more than 100 movies and 300 TV shows, Serna's been a character actor known for his improvisations. "I wasn't interested in becoming a star," he told NPR, "I just wanted to work."

Pepe Serna in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimensionin 1984.

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Before its showing at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, Serna sat in the lobby of L.A.'s Biltmore Hotel to reminisce. He talked about growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he began acting at age 3, entertaining the crowds at his godfather's boxing ring. He studied in Mexico, where one of his idols from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Cantinflas, helped him break into the movies as an extra. After acting in a bullfighting movie and a production of the musical Hair, Serna made his way to Hollywood in 1969.

During our interview, Serna shared several stories, often breaking into character and changing his voice from humble farmworker to a rootin- tootin Tex Mex, to a poetic pachuco. He recited monologues from his one-man show, which he's turning into a film, and he improvised other characters on the spot.

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Actor and director Eva Longoria calls Pepe Serna a legend in the entertainment industry.

Pepe Serna: Life is Art

Over the years, Serna has worked with everyone from Meryl Streep to Johnny Depp, and Latino artists such as Cheech Marin. In the documentary, Eva Longoria refers to Serna as a hometown hero. "If you're from Corpus, you know Selena, you know Farrah Fawcett, you know Lou Diamond Phillips, you know Pepe Serna."

At 77, Serna is still the energizer bunny he always was. He'll be featured in Longoria's upcoming film Flamin' Hot, and he's starring in a short film, Abuelo, which is showing before his documentary at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

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Remembering 'Goodfellas' actor Ray Liotta : NPR******

Remembering 'Goodfellas' actor Ray Liotta

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Remembering 'Goodfellas' actor Ray Liotta

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Liotta, who died May 26, started out playing a nice guy on a soap opera. Then came his tough-guy roles in Something Wildand Goodfellas. He was also in Field of Dreams.Originally broadcast in 2016.

Hear The Original Interview

Ray Liotta On 'Goodfellas,' Acting And His Return To TV

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Ray Liotta On 'Goodfellas,' Acting And His Return To TV

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, professor of television studies at Rowan University in New Jersey, in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOODFELLAS")

RAY LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) We always called each other goodfellas. Like you'd say to somebody, you're going to like this guy. He's all right. He's a good fella. He's one of us. You understand?

BIANCULLI: That's Ray Liotta in the starring role of Martin Scorsese's classic 1990 film "Goodfellas." Liotta died last week at the age of 67. We're going to listen to Terry's 2016 interview with him. In "Goodfellas," he played Henry Hill, a wiseguy, a member of a New York crime family who testified against the family after he was arrested and went into the witness protection program. Liotta already had played a tough guy in his first major role in the 1986 film "Something Wild." But he didn't always play tough. In the 1989 film "Field Of Dreams," He played Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose ghost shows up at an Iowa cornfield, which had been turned into a baseball diamond by a farmer played by Kevin Costner.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FIELD OF DREAMS")

LIOTTA: (As Shoeless Joe Jackson) Man, I just love this game. Not a plate for food money. It was a game - the sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball or glove to your face?

KEVIN COSTNER: (As Ray Kinsella) Yeah.

LIOTTA: (As Shoeless Joe Jackson) I used to love traveling on the trains from town to town - the hotels, brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the rooms. It was the crowd rising to their feet. The ball was hit deep. Shoot, I'd have played for nothing.

BIANCULLI: Liotta also played a range of roles in commercial and independent films, and even played Frank Sinatra in the HBO movie "The Rat Pack." When Terry spoke with him, he was starring in the NBC series "Shades Of Blue," opposite Jennifer Lopez. They both played corrupt New York cops. The criminals pay off the cops, and in return, the cops let the dealers do their thing - up to a point. Here's a scene from an episode of that show. Liotta's character, Lieutenant Matt Wozniak, is using a little coercion to keep one of the dealers in line.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SHADES OF BLUE")

LIOTTA: (As Matt Wozniak) I need to remind you about our understanding, Raul?

OTTO SANCHEZ: (As Raul Mendez) Oh, I remember. You wanted to protect parks and schools from the drug trade. I trusted your assurance that no one else will push into that territory.

LIOTTA: (As Matt Wozniak) This isn't about your turf. The dope's cut hot. I need to get it all off the street. You cracked the skull of my only lead.

SANCHEZ: (As Raul Mendez) I don't think you're appreciating my situation. I can't look like a [expletive].

LIOTTA: (As Matt Wozniak) You don't dispense street justice in my precinct. Now where is he?

SANCHEZ: (As Raul Mendez) The girlfriend never gave him up - tough girl. Don't worry. I'll find him.

LIOTTA: (As Matt Wozniak) No more mayhem, Raul.

SANCHEZ: (As Raul Mendez) We both want what's best for the community, Lieutenant. I think you know what that's going to...

LIOTTA: (As Matt Wozniak) Let me explain to you how this works. I (inaudible) you because you keep your business contained and you don't cause me any aggravation. We both know that if I burned you down tonight, some punk phoenix would rise from your ashes. And I'm already starting to like him better. How's that for a reminder?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

TERRY GROSS: That's Ray Liotta on "Shades Of Blue" (laughter). Ray Liotta, welcome to FRESH AIR. You're going to go easy on me, right? You're going to be nice to me, right?

LIOTTA: Yes, I will. I will. I think I was throwing ashes on him - I think - is what I was doing.

GROSS: You were. Yeah. And they were getting in his eyes and his nose and his mouth. And he was, like, choking and burning and not really liking your particular form of interrogation (laughter).

LIOTTA: He deserved it.

GROSS: So how did you get the part on "Shades Of Blue"?

LIOTTA: It came to me. I was looking to do a 13-episode-type show that there's so many of now. And Jennifer was already set. It was her piece and I read it, liked it. I heard that Barry Levinson was going to be directing it, who I really, really like. And I just decided to take a chance and roll the dice. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, though. At first, I didn't know if I was getting into the the J.Lo show or what it was. So it was important for me to know that it was going to be more than just sitting behind a desk and giving orders and them going out and doing it. I wanted to make sure that I was involved in it.

GROSS: So you said that you wanted, you know, a 13-part series, which is why you signed on, one of the reasons why you signed onto "Shades Of Blue." What do you want from a series? Like, why did you want one?

LIOTTA: To get better movie parts, to tell you the the God's honest truth. I, you know, I've been lucky enough to do and work in this business for years, but I wasn't getting the exact kind of parts that that I wanted. Usually, it wasn't about if I had the ability to do it. It was more about - that I have enough oomph behind me to put butts in the seats and - or eyes on the tube. So I just started seeing people's careers and the whole business changed from when I first started. There were a lot of people that were getting movies that were coming out of television. So that really was one of the main reasons, that and just to have a consistent paycheck. And to work, to do independent movies year after year, never knowing what they're going to be is exhausting, frustrating. There's never much money in it.

GROSS: So I can understand your frustration with independent films. Like, the independent of film from just a few years ago "Killing Them Softly" is a terrific performance, and very few people saw the film. So it must be frustrating to put in such a good performance and then not many people see it. But, of course, when you signed up, you don't know if it's going to be a big cult film or if it's just going to disappear.

LIOTTA: And a lot of times, a movie would come along, and I got to play the lead part where I wasn't the maniac, but it was a smaller type independent movie. And I've always felt that part of this game is to play as many different parts as you can. So I had more opportunity in smaller-budgeted movies to play the leading man, to get the girl without having to choke her first. So it served a purpose in terms of acting. And I never took any of the smaller, independent things for - I never just phoned it in. I still went all out and studied and did homework for every movie I've ever done.

GROSS: So I'm sure you've spoken about "Goodfellas" many times during your career, but bear with me while I ask you a few questions about it, because I know our listeners will want to hear about it. Is that OK with you?

LIOTTA: Sure.

GROSS: Swell. So "Goodfellas," of course, a 1990 film. You played Henry Hill. And it's based on the Nicholas Pileggi novel "Wiseguy," in which Henry Hill tells his whole story, starting from when he's a kid and he aspires to be, like, the smalltime gangsters in the neighborhood. He ends up being their assistant, and ends up being, you know, really, like, a part of that whole ring and ends up in the witness protection program. So I know that you listened to tapes of Henry Hill.

LIOTTA: Yeah.

GROSS: What interested you in his voice? What were you able to pick up from - and I assume with these FBI tapes, was this being - him being debriefed by the FBI?

LIOTTA: No. These were the tapes of - that Nick Pileggi gave me 'cause when he was writing the book - right.

GROSS: Oh, for his book.

LIOTTA: So he talked to Henry for hours. And once I got the film, I went and talked to Nick to just to start, you know, start doing my homework. And he said, here, listen to this - these tapes. Well, I listen to the tapes of Henry. And I listened to them every day. And that was back when everybody - everything was on cassette. So you would just put - I'd just put it in my mother's car and listen to Henry for hours. The problem was all he did was eat potato chips. And if you've ever listened to anybody eat potato chips for, like, hours as he's talking, it's an extremely annoying thing.

GROSS: (Laughter).

LIOTTA: But that's basically what I did. So that told me a lot about Henry was he was just going to do what he wanted to do. And the biggest thing that I learned from it was just how casual they were, how casual Henry was about what happened. It was just like he was telling a story of what his kids were doing and how they played in a park, except they were talking about, you know, people getting killed or beaten. It was very, very casual, though.

GROSS: So your voice is very important in this 'cause you're not only portraying the character on screen, but you're doing voiceover throughout the film. So let me play the opening voiceover of the film in which - this is a flashback where your character is young. But you're doing the voiceover as an adult looking back on your childhood.

LIOTTA: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOODFELLAS")

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) To me, being a gangster was better than being president of the United States. Even before I first wandered into the cab stand for an afterschool job, I knew I wanted to be a part of them. It was there that I knew that I belonged. And to me, it meant being somebody in a neighborhood that was full of nobodies. They weren't like anybody else. I mean, they did whatever they wanted. They double-parked in front of a hydrant, and nobody ever gave them a ticket. In the summer when they played cards all night, nobody ever called the cops.

GROSS: That's my guest, Ray Liotta, in "Goodfellas." It's just so interesting to me how low his sights were set as a kid. You know, like...

LIOTTA: (Laughter).

GROSS: ...He wanted to be the guy that could park - like, double-park in front of the hydrant. And you're not going to get a ticket, you know (laughter)?

LIOTTA: Yeah. Well, I guess different strokes for different folks. I guess when you grow up like that and when you're growing up in New York and your father isn't making a lot of money, to see people who are - have a lot of money and power, then, you know, that kind of shows a power that they're parking wherever they want when you're not supposed to do that. That really influenced him a lot.

GROSS: So listening through the potato chips when you were listening to the tapes of Henry Hill, did you pick up a lot of slang that he used - because there's, you know, expressions through the film that you assume were a part of that, you know, wiseguy culture. So did you pick up, like, language kind of things that you thought were really interesting?

LIOTTA: I'm a big believer that the script is your bible. And the script - and a good one - tells you everything that you need to know. And I just committed to the script. I learned everything - I learned - I had so much time to learn it. And I was home in New Jersey 'cause my mother was sick at the time. And Marty was just getting ready to launch "Last Temptation Of Christ." And so the movie was pushed so I had more time. So I just listened to the tapes. But I didn't get anything in terms of slang. I just know what it's like being an East Coast person, being from New Jersey. But also, just the script was great. What Marty and Nicholas wrote was - you know, I just committed to that, to the words that was on the page.

GROSS: Martin Scorsese was very close with his mother and even did a documentary about his mother. I assume he really understood what it was like for you to have a mother who was very sick.

LIOTTA: Yeah, I'm sure maybe personally he did. But I didn't really bring that to the set until - I mean, to be totally honest, my mom passed away in the middle of the movie. And they told me on a particular day during a particular scene that I really had to get home that night because things took a turn for the worse. And, you know, I broke down. I went into my trailer. I had to get myself together 'cause we had to, you know, get ready and still do the movie. And I had a scene to shoot. I grew up only 45 minutes from the city. So the crew, Joe Pesci, they came to my mom's funeral. It was really, really - it wasn't special. But it was special and nice. But that's the reality of what happened.

BIANCULLI: Actor Ray Liotta speaking to Terry Gross in 2016. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF JEFF BABKO'S "NOSTALGIA IS FOR SUCKAS")

BIANCULLI: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to Terry's 2016 interview with actor Ray Liotta, who died last week at age 67. His string of memorable film appearances included "Something Wild," "Goodfellas" and "Field Of Dreams."

GROSS: When we left off, we were talking about "Goodfellas." And there's a very famous scene, the laughing scene, in which you and a bunch of the small-time gangsters that you hang out with, including Tommy, who's played by Joe Pesci, you're at your favorite, like, restaurant bar hangout. You're at a table. And the Joe Pesci character, Tommy, is telling this story. Everybody's laughing at the story. You're laughing the hardest. And after the story ends, he looks at you and he says, what's so funny? So let's play part of that scene. And the scene starts with you just laughing a lot at the end of his story.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOODFELLAS")

JOE PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) Pow, ping - I mean, I wish I was big just once.

(LAUGHTER)

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) We're the big cops.

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) Really funny - you're really funny.

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) What do you mean, I'm funny?

(LAUGHTER)

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) It's funny, you know, that story - it's funny. You're a funny guy.

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) What do you mean? You mean the way I talk - what?

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) It's just, you know - it's - you're just funny. It's - you're funny - you know, the way you tell the story and everything.

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) Funny how? I mean, what's funny about it?

FRANK ADONIS: (As Anthony Stabile) Tommy, you know, you got it all wrong...

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) Whoa, whoa, Anthony, he's a big boy. He knows what he said. What'd you say, funny how?

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) Just...

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) What?

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) Just - you know, you're funny (laughter).

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) You mean - let me understand this because I don't - I don't know. Maybe it's me. I'm a little [expletive] maybe. But I'm funny how? I mean, funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to [expletive] amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) I'm not - just - you know how you tell a story. What?

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) No, no. I don't know. You said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the [expletive] am I funny? What the [expletive] is so funny about me? Tell me. Tell me what's funny.

LIOTTA: (As Henry Hill) Get the [expletive] out of here, Tommy.

(LAUGHTER)

PESCI: (As Tommy DeVito) I almost had him. I almost had him. You stuttering prick, yeah. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSS: That's Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci in a scene from "Goodfellas." So that's such a crazy scene. Like, the Joe Pesci character is so crazy. Like, that's an example of it because you had every reason to think that he was actually threatening you because that's how crazy he is. There's a scene where he shoots the Michael Imperioli character in the foot just kind of for no reason and later just kills him. So what was behind that scene? Like, what's the difference between how that scene looked in the original script and how it looked onscreen?

LIOTTA: That was totally improv during - Joe was telling a story, we had two weeks of rehearsal, which is basically unheard of with making movies, but we had two weeks...

GROSS: You mean because that's a lot of rehearsal or a little rehearsal?

LIOTTA: Yeah, yeah.

GROSS: That's a lot.

LIOTTA: You don't usually rehearse like that. It was just Lorraine, Bob, Joe and myself and Marty. And Joe is a great storyteller. And he was telling a story - that actually happened to him at a restaurant once, and he was telling that story. And Marty thought, wow, that would be a great place to put a scene like that. And, you know, Marty just, you know, he's a genius. So during rehearsal, Joe and I just played around with it. And then we would keep working at it and shaping it. But then the whole thing was once we improved it and got it all down the way Marty wanted it, it was written in stone, and the improv became part of the script.

GROSS: What our listeners can't see is that in that scene, you're not only laughing loudly, but it's like visually you are laughing. Like, your mouth is like way open as you laugh. Like, your whole face is shaped like a laugh, as if like you're trying to prove, like, this is funny. I am enjoying myself. I'm all in on this joke. And there's even a collage on YouTube of your laughter through the movie. Was that a thing for you when you were making it that you thought that this character had to just, like, demonstrate that he thought something was funny and that he was enjoying the laugh?

LIOTTA: That's the way I laugh.

GROSS: Is that the way you laugh?

LIOTTA: Yeah. If I think something is funny, I think it's funny. And I just let it out. I'm amused by a lot of things. I love humor. I'm constantly joking around. It blows my friends' minds that - I've never been in a fight in my whole life. And I play all these kinds of characters. It might seem exaggerated, but it's not. I just, you know, some people just have some very full laughter, full of joy and have no shame or fear of letting that out.

GROSS: So you told us about the potato chip eating interviews on cassette that you listened to of Henry Hill. Did you meet him in person, like, in a secret location when he was in the witness protection program?

LIOTTA: No. I got a call from him after he saw the movie. Marty didn't want me to talk to him at all. He just wanted - we're just going to go by the script now because he knew that maybe if I met him, he might embellish or - he didn't know what was going to happen. And they just wanted me to just go by the script and not to meet him. I got a phone call that he wanted to meet me at a bowling alley in the valley with his brother. And I said, what the heck is this going to be? So I went, and he was there. And I met him for the first time. He had just seen the movie. And basically, he says, hey, I wanted to meet you. You know, thanks for making me not look like a scumbag, to quote him. And I'm thinking to myself, oh, my gosh, did you really watch the movie? You pretty much were a scumbag. You ratted on your friends. You was doing all this blow. You were beating people up.

(LAUGHTER)

LIOTTA: But I - and then I would see him for years. He had a rough life towards the end of his life. And I would see him a lot of times in Venice. And he was just, you know, out of his mind on, you know, doing something usually pretty loaded. I would see him leaning against trees or just sleeping on the beach. And I would bump into him every once in a while.

BIANCULLI: Actor Ray Liotta speaking to Terry Gross in 2016. The star of Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" died last week at age 67. After a break, we'll continue their conversation. And film critic Justin Chang reviews "Crimes Of The Future," the first movie in eight years from director David Cronenberg. I'm David Bianculli, and this is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BIANCULLI: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, in for Terry Gross, back with more of Terry's 2016 interview with actor Ray Liotta, the star of Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas," who also played memorable roles in the movies "Something Wild," "Field Of Dreams" and "Heartbreakers," died last week. He was 67 years old. Although best known as a film star, Ray Liotta had started in television on the daytime soap opera "Another World."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

GROSS: Probably your most famous film is "Goodfellas." But people who are young don't necessarily know much about anything except current films, and that's kind of the joke in an episode of "Modern Family" that you just guest-starred on. And I want to play a clip from that. It's a really funny episode. And in this episode, the three kids from the family are...

LIOTTA: (Laughter).

GROSS: They want to treat their uncle to a special gift for his birthday, and it's kind of last minute. So the three teenage Dunphy kids decide to buy a map to the stars' homes in Hollywood and take their uncle, who loves Barbra Streisand, to Barbra Streisand's house. So they take him there. And the uncle is played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson. They take him there, and instead of seeing Barbra Streisand in front of the house, they see you in the front yard, you as Ray Liotta. And - but only the uncle recognizes you. The kids have no idea who you are. So you're trying to tell the kids who you are by listing some of your biggest films.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MODERN FAMILY")

LIOTTA: (As Ray Liotta) "Goodfellas." "Something Wild." "Field Of Dreams."

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON: (As Mitchell Pritchett) "Field Of Dreams."

NOLAN GOULD: (As Luke Dunphy) Never seen it.

ARIEL WINTER: (As Alex Dunphy) We're really not that old.

FERGUSON: (As Mitchell) Look; Ray Liotta is a very fine actor, and we have taken up enough of his time. So...

LIOTTA: (As Ray Liotta) Stop saying my full name like you have to keep telling them who I am.

FERGUSON: (As Mitchell) Well...

SARAH HYLAND: (As Haley Dunphy) So wait; you live with Barbra Streisand?

LIOTTA: (As Ray Liotta) You got the map. She lived here for about two months 15 years ago. You think the bastards would update these things to reflect the current movie star owners.

FERGUSON: (As Mitchell) Thank you. Come on, kids. We're sorry to have bothered you.

LIOTTA: (As Ray Liotta) No, no, no, no. I don't want you to leave empty-handed. Come on in for a selfie.

FERGUSON: (As Mitchell) Oh, all right. Here. OK.

LIOTTA: (As Ray Liotta) When you see my movies later, you're going to realize that this is a special moment. Come on. And cheese.

FERGUSON: (As Mitchell) Cheese.

LIOTTA: (As Ray Liotta) See; that's an old actor's trick for a perfect smile.

GROSS: (Laughter) That's Ray Liotta guest-starring on an episode of "Modern Family." That's really funny. So...

LIOTTA: As far as what you were saying to begin with, in terms of kids knowing or not knowing, I do have kids that age coming up to me, mostly young boys, from their fathers - the fathers pass along music and books or whatever that affected them when they were younger. You know, a lot of times you pass it on to your kid. So they pass on "Field Of Dreams" to their sons that - who play baseball. And some of the fathers that, you know, show their young sons - like, I've had 13-year-old kids come up to me and say, oh, my gosh, you were so good in "Goodfellas." And I'm thinking, oh, my gosh, what kind of parents do they have? That's a little too young to see that one.

GROSS: I wonder if it's like a rite of passage, like an initiation thing into manhood, where fathers sit down their sons and go, son, you're old enough now to see "Goodfellas." It's a great film.

(LAUGHTER)

LIOTTA: It could be. I don't know. All I can say is I've - my career has been up and down. And I like it much better being up. And when it's up, part of that is people coming up to you and saying things. I remember when I first started - I'm an actor. I don't want that sort of thing. I just want to - it's all about the work. And that's just a bunch of BS.

GROSS: (Laughter).

LIOTTA: You want people to watch what you're doing. What's the point? There's a personal side to me of challenges as an actor that I like to take on myself, and I do certain things that maybe nobody else knows why I'm doing, but it's all - it all has to do with - to grow as an actor. I really believe that you never stop learning, and you never really ever get there. Just like in life, the older you get - you don't arrive at, oh, it's all right; I'm 60 now. I've arrived. It's not true. It just keeps going. You're always - you're constantly learning thing if you're the type of person who stays open and current. My dad, who - God bless him - just passed away at 98, he was hip to everything 'cause he read, 'cause he would watch TV. He wasn't closed down about anything. And he passed that on to me. Or the way to talk to people - you can have a conversation with anybody. He kind of passed that on to me. He didn't pass music on to me 'cause I couldn't stand - the ironic thing is, I once played Frank Sinatra, and I remember my parents listening to that. And they said, oh, my God, who is this guy? Turn this off.

(LAUGHTER)

LIOTTA: And then I end up playing him, and now I can't - you know, now if he's on, you know, I listen to the Frank Sinatra station the majority of the time.

GROSS: Yeah. You played Sinatra in "The Rat Pack," the HBO movie in which Don Cheadle was Sammy Davis Jr.

LIOTTA: Yeah, he was great.

GROSS: Yeah. Joe Mantegna was Dean Martin. And you had to play Sinatra. That's not easy (laughter).

LIOTTA: I turned it down a bunch of times. I wouldn't do it. I was first asked to play him by Tina Sinatra or Nancy, one of the Sinatra - his daughters, back when they did Movie of the Weeks. And they were doing a Movie of the Week of it. And I turned it down because I just didn't want to do it at that time in my career. Then it came along. It was during this down period of - for me. And they asked me - it was HBO. Rob Cohen directed it. And he called and asked if I would play it, and I just said, no, no, no thanks. I don't want to take that on, playing somebody that so many people knew, that I just felt the judgment would be too much. And I was down in my career. So to take on something, if it didn't work, maybe it would make things worse. And then I - I was, wait a second; the whole point of me doing this is to take on challenges, to keep growing as an actor and not really caring. One of the biggest downfalls for any actor is fear of judgment. And so if you start acting and you start thinking about and worrying about what other people are going to say about it, you'll never really fully commit to who it is and what it is that you're playing.

GROSS: So what makes people think of you when they think of Sinatra? Did you sing before?

LIOTTA: I started out - (laughter) I started out - I never, ever wanted to be an actor. It came time to go to college. My dad said, go wherever you want. I applied. I got into the University of Miami. This was 1973. And at that time, basically, all you needed was a pulse to get in there.

GROSS: (Laughter).

LIOTTA: I got into the University of Miami. I had no idea what it was that I wanted to do. So I just went - I was just going to take liberal arts. I got to the head of the line, and they said, because you don't know what it is, what you want to do. You're going to have to take math and history. I said, oh, my gosh, there's no way. I don't even want to be in college. I'm not going to take any math and history. Right next to the line that I was in was for the drama department. I said, oh, my gosh, that's it. I'll be a drama major. Well, it's the typical actor's story. I'm in line now to be a drama major because I think that's the easiest way to get by this year. And there was a really pretty girl. And she said, you auditioning for the play tonight? I said, no. And she just berated me. Oh, my gosh, how could you not want to do the play? You got to do the play. It's all about doing plays. What kind of actor doesn't want to do a play? So I went and I auditioned for the play, and it was for "Cabaret." So then you had to sing and dance. I said, sing and dance? I'm a jock from New Jersey. What the F?

So she helped me out. I had seen "Pippin." My parents took me to see a Broadway show, and it was "Pippin." And there was one song in there, "Magic To Do," that I really liked. I got up there. And all I can remember is the refrain, we got magic to do. We got - I'm just doing the magic to do. And I don't know how old you are, but there used to be a group called Freddie and the Dreamers.

GROSS: I remember, I'm telling you now (laughter).

LIOTTA: There was a dance called the Freddie. So I started doing the Freddie as my dance was - 'course they're saying, you're supposed to be singing - you're supposed to be dancing as you're singing. So I just said - did the refrain, and I did the Freddie. And I got into it. And the first year, all I did were musicals. I was in the chorus for my whole freshman year. But there was an acting teacher there named Robert "Buckets" Lowery (ph), and he was great. They called him Buckets because he used to play basketball. Me being a jock from New Jersey, like - because when you first get into drama class and, you know, kids who - they're just different people in a lot of different ways. And it wouldn't be the people that I would normally hang out with. And I didn't care what they thought because here I am thinking I'm just going to be here for one year. It doesn't matter. So for some reason, I just really committed and listened to what Buckets said. And thank God he was an acting teacher who was - it was kind of Stanislavski, you know, the Russian director and acting teacher. And I just listened to what he said and kind of understood and just learned. And if it wasn't for Buckets, I probably would have left.

GROSS: Well, I'm just going to savor the image of you doing the Freddie while singing a song from "Pippin."

LIOTTA: I did.

GROSS: The Freddie was just like the goofiest dance ever. Yeah.

LIOTTA: It was crazy. See, and I've said that before. And I've done that on talk shows. And you're the only person who I've ever talked to who remembers the Freddie.

GROSS: Yeah, it's kind of, like, say your arms are at your side. You move them up parallel to the ground and, like, kick your arm - kick your leg to the left and kick your leg to the right. It's almost like a calisthenics exercise.

LIOTTA: Exactly.

GROSS: It's the silliest - it was a novelty record with a novelty dance.

LIOTTA: Yep.

GROSS: Totally silly. Love it. OK.

BIANCULLI: Actor Ray Liotta speaking to Terry Gross in 2016. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BIANCULLI: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to Terry's 2016 interview with actor Ray Liotta, who died last week at age 67. His string of memorable film appearances included "Something Wild," "Goodfellas" and "Field Of Dreams."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

GROSS: You started your career in a soap opera, "Another World," which was one of the really, really big soaps. And we have a short clip we're going to play from that. OK.

LIOTTA: (Laughter).

GROSS: And I'll confess, this is from the internet. I haven't seen the whole episode. I can't really set it up too well, except to say that you play Joe Perrini.

LIOTTA: Joey Perrini, yep.

GROSS: And you were on the soap opera, I think, from '78 to '81.

LIOTTA: That sounds about right. Yep.

GROSS: And you've just come back to town. You're talking to your ex-brother-in-law about your failed marriage to this guy's sister. And you speak first.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANOTHER WORLD")

LIOTTA: (As Joey Perrini) Let me ask you something.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Go ahead.

LIOTTA: (As Joey Perrini) Can I ask you...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Thought you didn't want to talk about it.

LIOTTA: (As Joey Perrini) I don't want to talk about. I'm just wondering.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Why don't you call her, find out how she's doing for yourself?

LIOTTA: (As Joey Perrini) Look. We got an annulment, right? That means, like, the marriage never happened - right? - never existed.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) But it did exist. And your loving each other and caring about each other existed, too.

LIOTTA: (As Joey Perrini) What about all the craziness, you know, about me being married to an heiress or fights over money or how to live? You know, if I want to annull that, I have to annull all the good times, too.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I disagree.

LIOTTA: (As Joey Perrini) Look. The girl I married was named Kit Farrow (ph), right? She never existed. So everything that we did just didn't really happen. I'm not mad about it Or anything else. That's just the way I want things, that's all.

GROSS: OK. So that is so soap opera. You were married to an heiress who wasn't really an heiress.

LIOTTA: Well, yes. But what happened was the love of my life, Eileen, died after I gave her a Saint Christopher medal up on a rock under the moon. I'll never forget the line. I proposed to her. With the moon in the stars as my witness, I pledge my love to you. So that's what's so - but she died. I went up to where I proposed to her. It was winter. I slipped, fell.

GROSS: Oh, really?

LIOTTA: (Laughter) Yeah. My mouth is open really wide, laughing, now that you brought that up. And I ended up in the hospital.

GROSS: Oh, no.

LIOTTA: I've been taken of - for weeks, I'm being taken care of by this nurse. Well, like I just say, this nurse, I end up falling for her. But she lies to me.

GROSS: At this point, I don't know if you're talking about your life or the soap opera. This is the soap opera.

LIOTTA: Exactly. See how good the soaps are? You can learn a lot that. That's natural you could be. And I end up marrying her, but then eventually find out that she was the richest woman in America. And she said that she had a different name than what it is that she had. So me being - I was probably the nicest guy in the world, Joey Perrini. That's why, again, these, these tough guys and "Something Wild" and all this stuff is kind of funny because in the soap I was really principled and religious. And because she lied to me, I got an annulment. And who wouldn't?

GROSS: So was she really wealthy or was she faking it?

LIOTTA: No. Man, she had cash.

GROSS: She was really - OK (laughter).

LIOTTA: Yeah, so I ended up realizing - coming to my senses and realized that I loved her. And we got back together. And one of our last scenes is we go off skiing to Switzerland. And that was it. That's when I quit the show. So...

GROSS: So if you don't mind my asking - I know you were adopted at the age of about six months. How important to you was it to find out who your birth parents were, or at least who your birth mother was? Was that an issue for you? Did you pursue that, and did that affect your life?

LIOTTA: No. I used to use it a lot - being adopted - especially when you're going out with a girl or looking to find out a girl. I'd say, hey, how you doing. The first five minutes, I'd somehow get in that I was adopted because I always looked at it as being given up. I never looked at it as being wanted. I couldn't get past being given up. And then I met a girl, got married, wanted to have a kid. But she thought it was extremely important - because I was born in the '50s, and they didn't give you any information about health or anything. They had very, very limited information that they had to legally give you. So...

GROSS: About your birth mother?

LIOTTA: Right. And at that time, on all the Oprah shows and Maury - and this was 17 years ago - a lot of the shows were about locating friends, family, mothers, fathers. Every show was about that.

GROSS: Because records were starting to be opened about that?

LIOTTA: I don't know. It just made good television, I guess. I don't know. I have no idea why they all started doing it, but they did. And at the end of it was this guy's name. It was Troy. I don't remember the - his name. But Michelle, my ex-wife, called him, said who I was. And people - by then, I was well-known, you know? I was making movies. And he found my birth mother within a day. And he called her and asked - God, this - I think I'm going to get emotional. I don't know how much I can really talk about this. This is very odd. Anyhow, we found her. And I met them. And it was a trip. I've told this story before. And they got mad at me for telling it because I told it on "David Letterman." So it's a very weird, wild story. I found out I had four birth half-sisters, a half-brother and a full sister - things I didn't know. And I'm 44 years old, so I didn't know any of this stuff.

GROSS: You were 44 then, yeah.

LIOTTA: Yeah. And also, all this information came to me.

GROSS: So if it was a big issue in your mind, emotionally, that you were given up, that you were given up for adoption, and if that hung over you for a lot of your life, you felt rejected as a result, did you ever have a long talk with your parents about adopting you? Or was it like, they told you you were adopted, you knew you were adopted and then you just didn't talk about it?

LIOTTA: That's it - didn't talk about it at all. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure they told me - I did - for show-and-tell in kindergarten, I told people the story that I was adopted. It never came up. It never really bothered me. I mean, the only time it would bother me with my parents is - on Saturdays, they used to make us clean, you know, clean the house and vacuum and do chores. And I would never forget saying, the only reason why you adopted us was to do all this work. So it never really bothered me and I never really thought about it that much.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you so much for talking with us. It's really been terrific to talk with you.

LIOTTA: Thanks.

BIANCULLI: Actor Ray Liotta speaking to Terry Gross in 2016. The star of "Goodfellas" died last week at the age of 67. Next month, Apple TV+ will premiere "Black Bird," a true crime miniseries featuring the actor's final TV role. It was a part written especially for him by series creator Dennis Lehane, the author whose other TV credits include "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Wire." Coming up, film critic Justin Chang reviews director David Cronenberg's first movie in eight years, "Crimes Of The Future." This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRAD MEHLDAU'S "BLACKBIRD")

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'Crimes of the Future' review: David Cronenberg's dystopian thriller : NPR******

'Crimes of the Future' is a dystopian thriller that cuts to the heart

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Justin Chang

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'Crimes of the Future' is a dystopian thriller that cuts to the heart

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Kristen Stewart (left) is a fan of the surgery Léa Seydoux performs in Crimes of the Future. Neon hide caption

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Kristen Stewart (left) is a fan of the surgery Léa Seydoux performs in Crimes of the Future.

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With its graphic images of stomachs being sliced open, organs being removed, and eyes and mouths being sewn shut, David Cronenberg's Crimes of the Futureis certainly not for the squeamish. But then why, as someone who self-identifies as squeamish, did I enjoy it so much? Maybe it's because while this director loves his gaping wounds and exploding heads, he wields his scalpel here with extraordinary finesse.

There's a cool elegance and a disarming playfulness to this movie that pulls you in, even (or especially) at its most grotesque moments. And as with most of Cronenberg's movies, the pleasures are intellectual as well as visceral. Crimes of the Futureisn't always easy to watch, but it's an awful lot of fun to think about.

The movie takes place in a grim future where humans have lost the ability to feel physical pain and have started operating on their own bodies. In this thrill-seeking world, surgery is the new sex — something that a lot of people do for kicks or even to earn a quick buck from live audiences. Others — like Saul Tenser, played by Viggo Mortensen, and his partner, Caprice, played by Léa Seydoux — have elevated it to a form of avant-garde performance art.

Saul has a medical condition in which his body keeps producing abnormal organs, which Caprice removes during their nightly shows. As grisly as these public spectacles are, the fact that the characters don't feel pain has a similarly anesthetizing effect on us as viewers. And there's a kinky pleasure to these scenes, too: Saul, lying in a high-tech, coffin-like bed called a Sark module, clearly enjoys being sliced open by Caprice's remote-controlled blades.

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Cronenberg & Mortensen, Making 'Eastern Promises'

Cronenberg & Mortensen, Making 'Eastern Promises'

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One of the funnier things about Crimes of the Futureis that it plays like a deadpan satire of the modern art world, in which Saul and Caprice must contend with rivals, fans and even groupies. But not unlike Saul's restless body, the movie itself keeps mutating, switching genres and sprouting new ideas at will.

The story morphs into a noirish mystery, complete with a nosy detective and a couple of power-drill-wielding femmes fatales. It's also a bizarrely touching love story, and both Mortensen and Seydoux suggest a deep core of passion beneath their characters' clinical exchanges. The movie is also an ecological parable, in which human biology is changing dramatically in response to a rapidly decaying environment. One key subplot involves an underground group of eco-anarchists who have willfully altered their bodies so that they can digest plastic and thus consume much of the planet's industrial waste.

There's a lot going on here, in other words, and Crimes of the Future spends a fair amount of time unpacking its own premise, though with a droll wit that keeps the exposition from sounding too much like exposition. As ever, Cronenberg and his longtime production designer, Carol Spier, are adept at telling their story visually. Some of their more memorable inventions are the devices that Saul uses to offset the effects of his condition: a giant bed that gyrates when he sleeps, or a mechanized chair that aids with his eating and digestion.

None of this is exactly new territory for Cronenberg. He actually wrote the script for Crimes of the Futuremore than 20 years ago but the movie never got off the ground until now. That may explain why it plays like a return to his career-long obsessions in films like The Flyand Crash, both of which examined how technology is literally reshaping the human body. In his 1983 horror classic, Videodrome, the characters kept saying "Long live the new flesh!" — a grim mantra that's hard not to think about in Crimes of the Future, whenever a scalpel touches skin.

Cronenberg is asking, quite sincerely: What are we doing to our planet, and how is that affecting the very composition of our bodies — and in turn, the next phase of human evolution? And not for the first time, he makes brilliant use of his regular collaborator, Viggo Mortensen, who starred in earlier Cronenberg dramas like A History of Violenceand Eastern Promises. In those movies, Mortensen played physically imposing gangsters; in Crimes of the Future, his character moves slowly and speaks in a raspy voice, rendered frail by his condition. There's great tenderness in Mortensen's performance, and he and Seydoux are very moving as two people who can truly be said to love each other, body and soul. That rush of romantic feeling may be the most shocking thing about Crimes of the Future: For all its blood and guts, this movie's biggest organ is its heart.

Visit 'Fire Island,' stay awhile : Pop Culture Happy Hour : NPR******

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The new rom-comFire Island puts a queer spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Written by and starring Joel Kim Booster, the film centers around a group of queer friends who decamp to Fire Island every summer. Booster and his best friend (Bowen Yang) are outsiders among the cliquish community of white wealthy gay privilege, and when love comes along, it places their friendship in jeopardy. Fire Island is directed by Andrew Ahn and is streaming on Hulu.

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The Emmy-winning animated series Bob's Burgersis making the hop to the big screen. The Bob's Burgers Movie captures the show's distinct look and feel, but introduces a new sense of urgency. Perpetually worried fry-cook Bob Belcher, his wife Linda, and their three oddball kids need to pay off the bank right away or lose their restaurant.

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Graduations caps flying in the air is a familiar site this time of year.Enlarge this image Vstock/Getty Images/Uppercut RF Graduations caps flying in the air is a familiar site this time of year.Vstock/Getty Images/Uppercut RF

This is the time of year when so many students graduate from so many schools in so many caps and gowns. Whether it's graduation episodes of our favorite TV series, high school songs, or movies about the last wild night of high school, we're here to commence a show about commencement.

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'Triangle of Sadness' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Fest

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Writer/director Ruben Ostlund, winner of the Palme d'Or for 'Triangle of Sadness,' poses for photographers during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 75th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 28, 2022. Vianney Le Caer/Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP hide caption

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Writer/director Ruben Ostlund, winner of the Palme d'Or for 'Triangle of Sadness,' poses for photographers during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 75th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 28, 2022.

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CANNES, France — Swedish director Ruben Ostlund's class warfare comedy "Triangle of Sadness" won the Palme d'Or at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, giving Ostlund one of cinema's most prestigious prizes for the second time.

Ostlund, whose art-world send-up "The Square" took the Palme in 2017, pulled off the rare feat of winning Cannes' top award for back-to-back films. "Triangle of Sadness," featuring Woody Harrelson as a Marxist yacht captain and a climactic scene with rampant vomiting, pushes the satire even further.

"We wanted after the screening (for people) to go out together and have something to talk about," said Ostlund. "All of us agree that the unique thing with cinema is that we're watching together. So we have to save something to talk about but we should also have fun and be entertained."

The awards were selected by a nine-member jury headed by French actor Vincent Lindon and presented Saturday in a closing ceremony inside Cannes' Grand Lumière Theater.

The jury's second prize, the Grand Prix, was shared between the Belgian director Lukas Dhont's tender boyhood drama "Close," about two 13-year-old boys whose bond is tragically separated after their intimacy is mocked by schoolmates; and French filmmaking legend Claire Denis' "Stars at Noon," a Denis Johnson adaptation starring Margaret Qualley as a journalist in Nicaragua.

The directing prize went to South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy," "The Handmaiden") for his twisty noir "Decision to Leave," a romance fused with a police procedural.

Korean star Song Kang Ho was named best actor for his performance in Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's film "Broker," about a Korean family seeking a home for an abandoned baby.

"I'd like to thank all those who appreciate Korean cinema," said Song, who also starred in Bong Joon Ho's Palme d'Or winning film "Parasite" in Cannes three years ago.

Best actress went to Zar Amir Ebrahimi for her performance as a journalist in Ali Abbasi's "Holy Spider," a true-crime thriller about a serial killer targeting sex workers in the Iranian religious city of Mashhad. Violent and graphic, "Holy Spider" wasn't permitted to shoot in Iran and instead was made in Jordan. Accepting the award, Ebrahimi said the film depicts "everything that's impossible to show in Iran."

The jury prize was split between the friendship tale "The Eight Mountains," by Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix Van Groeningen, and Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski's "EO," about a donkey's journey across a pitiless modern Europe.

"I would like to thank my donkeys," said Skolimowski, who proceeded to thank all six donkeys used in the film by name.

The jury also awarded a special award for the 75th Cannes to Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time Palme-winners and long a regular presence at the festival, for their immigrant drama "Tori and Lokita." Swedish-Egyptian filmmaker Tarik Saleh took best screenplay at Cannes for "Boy From Heaven," a thriller set in Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque.

The award for best first film, the Camera d'Or, went to Riley Keough and Gina Gammell for "War Pony," a drama about the Pine Ridge Reservation made in collaboration with Oglala Lakota and Sicangu Lakota citizens.

Saturday's closing ceremony brought to a close a Cannes that attempted to fully resuscitate the annual France extravaganza that was canceled in 2020 by the pandemic and saw modest crowds last year. This year's festival also unspooled against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, which sparked red-carpet protests and a dialogue about the purpose of cinema in wartime.

Last year, the French body horror thriller "Titane" took the top prize at Cannes, making director Julia Decournau only the second female filmmaker ever to win the Palme. In 2019, Bong Joon Ho's "Parasite" triumphed in Cannes before doing the same at the Academy Awards.

This year, the biggest Hollywood films at Cannes — "Elvis,""Top Gun: Maverick,""Three Thousand Years of Longing" — played outside Cannes' competition lineup of 21 films. But their presence helped restore some of Cannes' glamour after the pandemic scaled down the festival for the last two years.

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13 summer movies NPR critics are looking forward to : NPR******

These are the summer movies NPR critics are looking forward to

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Glen Weldon at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)

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Movie stills from Cha Cha Real Smooth, Fire Island, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, The Princess, Thor: Love and Thunder, and NOPE. Apple TV+, Searchlight, Hulu, Marvel, Universal hide caption

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Movie stills from Cha Cha Real Smooth, Fire Island, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, The Princess, Thor: Love and Thunder, and NOPE.

Apple TV+, Searchlight, Hulu, Marvel, Universal

Just like there's too much TV to keep track of, the summer movie slate is jam-packed after years of pandemic-induced disruption.

As temperatures get hotter, burgers, bat mitzvahs and Baz Luhrmann are headed to the big screen. Here's what NPR critics have their eyes on, in order of release date.

The Bob's Burgers Movie

In theaters May 27

YouTube

I've seen every episode of Bob's Burgersat least once. Every week my partner and I will sit down, have dinner and watch the newest episode. And we are excited for this movie.

Little has been divulged. We know the main cast will be there – Bob, Linda, Tina, all of them. Apparently, they have, like, a week to keep their restaurant afloat, and the kids get into a mystery of some sort to try and save it. The trailer is a lot of Gene yelling things at the other siblings, and lots of one-off liners.

There are many things Bob's Burgersdoes well. But one of the best things is obviously the music and the songs, so I'm excited for those.

I do worry that this film has kind of gotten buried. It's opening in theaters, but I probably would have been fine seeing it on streaming first. – Aisha Harris

Fire Island

Hulu, June 3

YouTube

This is a film written by and starring the very funny Joel Kim Booster, directed by Andrew Ahn. He directed two films I really like called Spa Nightand Driveways. Both of those movies are really kind of quiet and introspective, but this doesn't seem to be. This seems to be a kind of raucous gay romcom set in a very privileged queer vacation destination, Fire Island.

And the idea behind this movie is just so simple and inevitable. Take the bones of Pride And Prejudice, and map it over the way that gay men tend to sort ourselves into these very insular cliques based on things like race and income level and age and body fat percentage, and frankly, it just works. It matters who's telling the story, because the film's two leads are Booster and Bowen Yang. It's going to be telling this very familiar story from a perspective we haven't seen a lot before. According to the trailer, at least, it's going to be directly addressing the white, rich, cis privilege of the queer community, and of Fire Island in particular. – Glen Weldon

Neptune Frost

In theaters June 3

YouTube

An afro-futurist, sci-fi musical set and shot in Rwanda, this first film by slam-poet/composer Saul Williams and actor/writer Anisia Uzeyman debuted in 2021 at Cannes, and became a festival darling invited to show at Toronto, Sundance, London, New York and a host of other fests last year. It's enigmatic, poetic, allegorical, operatic, eerie, and so determinedly non-linear, it's hard to tell what's going on at any given moment. But if experimental and ambitious count as draws for you, this has plenty of both those qualities. – Bob Mondello

Crimes of the Future

In theaters June 3

YouTube

David Cronenberg is back, and back to his old trippy/gooey/disquietingly pulsating body-horror tricks, bless him. This time, Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux are a pair of performance artists who perform live surgery in front of audiences, demonstrating how Viggo's character can grow and mutate his internal organs due to a condition called "Accelerated Evolution Syndrome." Sing with me: "Tale as old as tiiiiiiiiime...." – Glen Weldon

Father of the Bride

HBO Max, June 16

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One of the movies that is a gigantic comfort-food pick for me is the 90s-era Nancy Meyers Father Of The Bridewith Steve Martin. And that is obviously a remake of a Spencer Tracy movie, where Elizabeth Taylor played his daughter. Of course, you definitely do not want to spend too much time with the harried father paying for the expensive wedding. But I've always thought this movie was funny and ultimately, really sweet.

The 90s version was a very particular era of Steve Martin. There's a moment in that movie where Martin, who is a sneaker magnate, has a bedazzled pair of tennis shoes made for his daughter to wear under her wedding dress. And when my sister got married a few years after this movie, which we both loved, I made her a pair of bedazzled tennis shoes, which she wore at the reception under her dress when she got out of her heels.

They are doing a remake of this with a Latinx family; Andy Garcia is the patriarch, Gloria Estefan is the mom. And I am really psyched. – Linda Holmes

Cha Cha Real Smooth

In theaters and Apple TV+ June 17

YouTube

Cooper Raiff follows up his charming (if terribly titled) filmmaking debut S***house, with an indie romance at least twice as charming. Raiff is writer/director and ingratiating leading man, fresh-out-of-college and sleeping on a cot in his little brother's bedroom. When their mom makes him take the kid to a friend's bat mitzvah, he meets and falls for Dakota Johnson, gets her autistic daughter to dance, and is immediately swarmed by Jewish mothers who want to hire him as a party-starter for their kids' bar and bat mitzvahs.

Presumably, Raiff is more driven in real life than his character is – you don't get two films produced in three years without having sharp elbows – but he makes puppyish vulnerability enormously appealing. – Bob Mondello

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

In theaters and on Hulu June 17

YouTube

A widowed ex-teacher (Emma Thompson) hires a much younger male escort (Daryl McCormack) hoping to make up for a lifetime of sexual timidity and boredom in this winning, surprising, funny, touching, and decidedly feminine (if not precisely feminist) take on self-discovery.

Sophie Hyde's direction is sensitive, and the performers have great chemistry – Thompson initially deflecting the escort's every attempt to do what she's hired him to do; McCormack by turns reassuring ("you're conflicted; conflict is interesting") and gentle ("may I kiss you on the cheek?"). That their roles will alter over time is a given – "I have some feedback and a couple of attainment goals" says Thompson at the start of a second meeting — and the situation grows interestingly complex. – Bob Mondello

Elvis

In theaters June 24

YouTube

Austin Butler is a hip-swiveling Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks his manipulative manager "Colonel" Tom Parker in what director Baz Luhrmann has been telling interviewers will be an impressionist tapestry exploring mid-20th century America, with all its hangups about race relations and celebrity culture.

"It's a bit like [how] Shakespeare takes a historical figure and uses it to look at a bigger picture," he told Entertainment Weekly. Suspicious minds might question that, but since Luhrmann did a decent job with the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes Romeo and Juliet, we can probably take him at his word. He went on to say it's a tale of The King told in three acts – Elvis the punk, Elvis the family-friendly movie star, and Elvis the '70s jumpsuit fan. – Bob Mondello

The Princess

Hulu, July 1

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Joey King and Veronica Ngo in The Princess. Simon Varsano hide caption

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Joey King and Veronica Ngo in The Princess.

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Little is known about this R-rated dark fantasy film, in which a princess (Joey King) refuses to marry the evil man to whom she is betrothed (Dominic Cooper), gets trapped in a tower, and proceeds to kick medieval butt to save her family as mercenaries attack. We do know it's directed by Le-Van Kiet, the Vietnamese filmmaker whose 2019 feature Furie, a gleefully over-the-top martial-arts action film, featured a mother rescuing her daughter from a trafficking ring. This princess is no damsel. – Glen Weldon

Thor: Love and Thunder

In theaters July 8

YouTube

Look, you've got in the world your Thor: Ragnarokpeople and your not-so-much Thor: Ragnarok people. I am the former. I think Thor: Ragnarok was full of good jokes. Thor: Love and Thunderis another Taika Waititi Thor movie, and I'm here for it.

Not for nothing, the thing that I liked the most about the original MCU Thor was Natalie Portman, and Natalie Portman is coming back for this movie. You've also got your Chris Hemsworth, your Tessa Thompson. At this point with the MCU, I want funny movies. I am somewhat over practically everything else. – Linda Holmes

Nope

In theaters July 22

YouTube

We know very little about what this movie is about, which is always a good sign with Jordan Peele. I feel like the less we know going into anything he's working on, the better.

There are small hints in the trailer. It opens up with Keke Palmer's character talking about how one of the first moving images created was of a Black man riding a horse. She claims that it's her great-great-grandfather, and that she is now part of a collective of the only Black horse trainers in Hollywood. But then the trailer is just lots of images going back and forth, and it's great. You have Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips Part II" being cut and sliced and made into creepy music, the way we do with trailers.

I've seen people trying to decode the movie already, which – if you're doing that, you're doing it wrong. – Aisha Harris

Bullet Train

In theaters August 5

YouTube

Five assassins are working interrelated missions on a 250-mph dash across Japan in stuntman-turned-director David Leitch's action-comedy. Brad Pitt's the one who left his gun at home — "if you put peace out in the world, you get peace back" he tells handler Sandra Bullock (who replaced Lady Gaga midway through the shoot).

Based on a novel by Kotaro Isaka, the film is encountering headwinds for casting non-Asian actors in leading roles, though the author's on record as being enthusiastic. – Bob Mondello

Three Thousand Years of Longing

In theaters August 31

YouTube

Based on an A.S. Byatt short story, this fantasy film about a scholar (Tilda Swinton) who frees a Djinn (Idris Elba) while visiting Istanbul is co-writer/director George Miller's first film since the jaw-dropping visual (and logistical) stunner Mad Max: Fury Road. The trailer promises dazzling visuals, a millennia-spanning story that's epic in scope (and kinda funny), and a protagonist who, thankfully, knows very well how stories about magical wish-granting usually end. – Glen Weldon

Paying homage to the Black queer trailblazers of Harlem : NPR******

Black artists have always led AIDS activism. This tribute wants to give them credit

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Black artists have always led AIDS activism. This tribute wants to give them credit

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Still from Ira Sachs's film Last Address. Last Address hide caption

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Still from Ira Sachs's film Last Address.

Last Address

In his 2010 short documentary Last Address, filmmaker Ira Sachs streamed images of the exteriors of the houses, apartments, and lofts where New York City artists had lived at the time of their deaths from AIDS-related complications. When Alex Fialho saw the elegiac film as a young curator in his mid-20s, it struck him as a powerful meditation on loss, and a statement about the ongoing presence of these artists in memory and history.

Having just moved to New York, Fialho says he was inspired to visit these sites himself. "Keith Haring's address at 542 LaGuardia Place, Felix Gonzales-Torres's address at London Terrace on W. 23rd Street," Fialho recalls, "That personal ritual of remembrance really gave me a sense of the lived experience of these artists who I greatly admired."

As programs director of the nonprofit arts organization Visual AIDS (a position now held by Kyle Croft), Fialho wanted to make that experience public, so he started approaching cinemas and museum partners to hold "Last Address" tribute walks in neighborhoods across the city, events to collectively memorialize key AIDS-related sites and recognize the ongoing presence, contributions, and impact of queer artists.

Beginning in 2014, tribute walks took place in the East Village, then Chelsea (2015), the Lower East Side (2016), the West Village (2017), the Meatpacking District (2018), and Times Square (2019). Before the pandemic forced a pause, Fialho says the walks grew from year to year. "At our last event, in Times Square, we had over a hundred people."

"Last Address" Tribute Walk in Times Square, at 328 W. 44th St, the last address of Reinaldo Arenas. Alex Fialho hide caption

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When Last Address resumes this year, on Saturday, May 28, the approach will be a little different. The location, Harlem, was suggested by the poet and activist Pamela Sneed, who points out that Black artists have always led AIDS activism, but their losses and contributions have often been overlooked or erased from AIDS narratives. At the same time, Sneed notes that Harlem's queer legacy hasn't been fully recognized, "You would go to Lenox Lounge, and even though you knew it was a Black queer spot, you wouldn't think of it as such."

Blake Paskal, who's affiliated with Visual AIDS and the Studio Museum in Harlem, says both organizations have been planning the 2022 tribute walk for a year. In addition to conventional archival research, they sought input from Black LGBTQ+ elders such as Antionettea "Dreadie" Etienne, Luna Luis Ortiz, and Lee Soulja Simmons, and used oral histories, conversations, personal correspondence, and photographs to document people and places of creativity, community, and care.

1st Black Trans Woman On Presidential HIV/AIDS Panel Seeks To Focus On Equality

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1st Black Trans Woman On Presidential HIV/AIDS Panel Seeks To Focus On Equality

As in past years, Harlem's Last Address tribute walk will kick off with a screening of Sachs' film, which will be followed by opening remarks from Sneed. Doorstep tributes will commence along an established route, led by those who have a close relationship with the site or artist.

Ballroom icons Tracey "Africa" Norman and David Ultima will speak at the former site of the Elks Lodge, one of the central locations in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning,paying tribute to a venue that fostered identity, community, and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Historian Michael Henry Adams will speak at the former address of Lenox Lounge, where greats such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane once performed, spotlighting how the iconic jazz club also became a significant LGBTQ+ social spot in the early 2000s.

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Artist submission: "Lenox Lounge" (Before) 2010 Harlem, NYC. Ruben Natal-San Miguel hide caption

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Artist submission: "Lenox Lounge" (Before) 2010 Harlem, NYC.

Ruben Natal-San Miguel

The writer Robert E. Penn will also honor their late friend B.Michael Hunter outside the home in Malcolm Shabazz Gardens where he died in 2001 with his husband Johnny and other loved ones at his side. Penn and Hunter became friends as members of Other Countries, a close-knit collective of Black gay writers founded by Daniel Garrett in 1986. Also known as Bert, B.Michael Hunter edited the group's work for publication, including the 1993 Lamda Literary award-winning anthology "Sojourner: Black Gay Voices In the Age of AIDS."

Penn says they were particularly impressed by B.Michael Hunter's 1991 poem "Bridgetown." "He was basically talking about intersectionality 20 years before it became a term that lots of people recognize and can discuss," Penn says. Speaking of his nom de plume, they explain, "It makes sense that B.Michael is 'Be Michael': Be Michael to the fullest you can be, be Michael authentically, be Michael without needing to explain yourself."

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Robert E. Penn (L) and B.Michael Hunter (R) at the OutWrite Conference in Boston, October 1993. Johnny Manzon-Santos hide caption

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Robert E. Penn (L) and B.Michael Hunter (R) at the OutWrite Conference in Boston, October 1993.

Johnny Manzon-Santos

Saturday's route will stretch for more than a mile, yet Sneed says it only represents a fraction of the history that Visual AIDS and the Studio Museum have mapped. She describes the tribute walk as a starting point for mourning loss and recovering legacy.

Daonne Huff, Director of Public Programs and Community Engagement explains, "For a lot of people, when we think of Harlem we think of art, when we perhaps think of queer art histories it stops in the Harlem Renaissance. I think this project was an opportunity to really spotlight the fact that queer creatives never left."

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Actor Ray Liotta has died at 67. He starred in 'Goodfellas' : NPR******

'Goodfellas' star Ray Liotta dead at 67

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Liotta's acting spanned four decades, where he put his stamp on crime and gangster films. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images hide caption

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Liotta's acting spanned four decades, where he put his stamp on crime and gangster films.

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The actor Ray Liotta has died. According to his publicist, Jennifer Allen, Liotta was in the Dominican Republic shooting the movie Dangerous Waters, when he died in his sleep. He was 67 years old.

The actor is perhaps best known for his role as Henry Hill in the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie Goodfellas, where he helped shape the idea of a gangster movie for years to come. The movie was based on the non-fiction book Wise Guyby Nicholas Pileggi. To prepare for the role, Liotta told WHYY's Fresh Airthat he sat in his mother's car and listened to hours and hours of tape of Hill being interviewed.

"And the biggest thing that I learned from it was just how casual they were — how casual Henry was about what happened," said Liotta. "It was just like he was telling a story of what his kids were doing and how they played in a park, except they were talking about, you know, people getting killed or beaten."

Liotta was born in 1954 in Newark, N.J. He grew up in nearby Union, after he was adopted by the Liotta family. He started acting at the University of Miami, where he majored in drama. After graduation, he worked small roles in various commercials and TV shows, but his breakout turn was in 1986's Something Wild, directed by Jonathan Demme.

From there, he played the ghost of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, after which he got cast in Goodfellas.

His Goodfellasco-star, Lorraine Bracco, remembered him on Twitter, writing "I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas. Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same...Ray Liotta."

Though Henry Hill was Liotta's most iconic role, he continued to work prolifically throughout his life, in movies such as Corrina, Corrina, Cop Land, and The Rat Pack.

In 2002, he starred in the hit video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, as Tommy Vercetti, a mobster who rises up the ranks of the game's criminal empire. In 2018, he told late-night hosts Desus & Merothat he didn't know much about the series and wasn't a gamer. "All I do is curse and call people whores," he joked.

In 2005, Liotta won an Emmy for a guest spot on the hospital drama ER, playing Charlie Metcalf, an alcoholic ex-convict who tries to reconnect with his son.

More recently, Liotta brought his signature intensity to Shades of Blue, where he starred opposite Jennifer Lopez. The crime show ran for three seasons between 2016 and 2018.

Liotta is survived by one daughter, and was recently engaged to Jacy Nittolo.

Hollywood's role in gun violence; plus, are movies getting longer? : It's Been a Minute : NPR******

Reframing guns on screen; plus, is it just us, or are movies getting longer?

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Elise Hu

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Reframing guns on screen; plus, is it just us, or are movies getting longer?

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A sign asking for a change hangs on a fence near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Friday, June 3, 2022. Jae C. Hong/AP hide caption

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A sign asking for a change hangs on a fence near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Friday, June 3, 2022.

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Once again, Americans are asking how to end mass shootings. With consensus on gun laws unlikely, some are turning to Hollywood to help change the narrative. Can those who control the levers of culture shift the public's relationship with guns? Guest host Elise Hu speaks with former video game creative and now TV writer Nadra Widatalla about heroes with guns on screen, "copaganda" and imagining a world that confronts conflict differently.

Plus, seriously, why are movies so long? It isn't scientific but it sure feels like movies are racking up the minutes. Elise chats with Varietyreporter Rebecca Rubin about total runtimes. And if films aren't actuallygetting longer, why does it feel that way?

This episode of 'It's Been a Minute' was produced by Barton Girdwood, Liam McBain, Chloee Weiner, and Janet Woojeong Lee. Our editors are Jessica Mendoza and Tamar Charney. Engineering support came from Kwesi Lee. Our director of programming is Yolanda Sangweni. Special thanks to Nina Metz at The Chicago Tribune. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at ibam@npr.org.

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'Evil Dead: The Game' gets the band back together for a modern horror makeover : NPR******

'Evil Dead: The Game' gets the band back together for a modern horror makeover

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'Evil Dead: The Game' gets the band back together for a modern horror makeover

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The video game is the latest iteration of the cult classic Evil Dead franchise. Saber Interactive hide caption

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The video game is the latest iteration of the cult classic Evil Dead franchise.

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We didn't know it at the time, but the arrival of the horror film The Evil Dead back in the early 1980s was the start of something big.

The movie had a tiny budget, an over-the-top gory style, and, perhaps most surprisingly, a twisted sense of humor.

Author Stephen King called it, "The most ferociously original horror movie of 1982."

With each subsequent release in the series, the movies leaned more into that darkly comic element. They became as funny as they were scary — and fans loved it.

Skip forward several decades, and what began as a cult classic horror film has become a full-blown universe with multiple sequels, a musical, and a well-received television series.

Now, a new video game aptly called Evil Dead: The Game is entering that canon. It's not the first Evil Dead video game, but it just might be the first one to really nail the singular magic of the series.

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All sorts of zombies and ghouls make their way into the game. Saber Interactive hide caption

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All sorts of zombies and ghouls make their way into the game.

Saber Interactive

Reviving that special atmosphere was an explicit focus of the audio team at Saber Interactive. Recreating — and in some instances updating — the world of the original series meant bringing back lots of Evil Dead stalwarts. That included its original composer, Joe LoDuca, who said his role had always been countering the levity of the jokes with some pretty serious and scary music.

"The music plays it straight," he said. "And I think that's what helps the humor and helps the absurdity of what gets introduced."

LoDuca composed the music for the original Evil Dead trilogy.

"I was still in school at the time. And so what I had at my disposal for the budget that we had, was to record in a little attic studio," he said. "I had four string players, and anything else that I could grab and bang on ... it was spit and glue."

LoDuca is back writing the main theme for Evil Dead: The Game, and maintaining that balance between spooky and comic is one way this game feels like what's come before it.

The main title music of Evil Dead: The Game

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Also important was to maintain the actual voice of the series itself. A slew of cast members are back to reclaim their roles, including Bruce Campbell, who played the protagonist Ash in the original film trilogy.

"Working with Bruce was a huge step forward for me at least," said Craig Sherman, the game's head writer.

"When his voice got in the game, it really started to feel like an Evil Dead game. He did change some of the dialogue, because he knows the character — 'I feel like Ash should say it this way' — and of course we're not going to tell Bruce Campbell what to say. He's Ash."

Ash is back and so is Bruce Campbell who played him in the original films. Saber Interactive hide caption

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The famed "cabin in the woods" setting is back in the game too — but designing sound and music for a 3D space is a little different than a movie on a screen.

That means fine-tuning the creaking sounds of the floorboards in the cabin, the running water of the swamp, or the wind blowing through the forest's trees.

"Once you play around with panning so it surrounds the player - that's when the magic happens," said Steve Molitz, who worked on the game's music.

These sounds, and the game's new music tracks, shift and change based on what the player is experiencing.

"If you're exploring, the music is gonna be more of an ambient drone," Molitz said. "As you start to encounter enemies — maybe some deadites spawn on a hillside as you're walking through the forest — the music swells and ramps up."

For Molitz and the team, the whole project is an exercise in staying true to what came before it.

"I think players will hear all the love and passion that went into this," Molitz said. "It really is a love letter to Evil Dead and to the fans."

Even Joe LoDuca said it was unbelievable to think the first thing he worked on is still alive to this day.

Or, as LoDuca himself appropriately suggests: "You can't kill it."

Kevin Spacey is charged in Britain with sexual assault : NPR******

Kevin Spacey faces charges of sexual assault in Britain

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Kevin Spacey faces criminal charges in Britain on multiple allegations of sexual assault. Pool/Getty Images hide caption

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Kevin Spacey faces criminal charges in Britain on multiple allegations of sexual assault.

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Prosecutors in England have authorized charging actor Kevin Spacey with multiple counts of sexual assault.

According to a statement from Rosemary Ainslie, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service's Special Crime Division, the service has authorized charging the actor with four counts of sexual assault against three men. The CPS is also authorized charging him with one count of "causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent."

Kevin Spacey Apologizes To Anthony Rapp Over Alleged Sexual Misconduct

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Kevin Spacey Apologizes To Anthony Rapp Over Alleged Sexual Misconduct

The authorization to charge Spacey follows an investigation by the Metropolitan police.

The alleged assaults occurred in 2005, 2008 and 2013 in London and Gloucestershire.

Representatives for Spacey have not returned a request for comment.

In 2017, the actor Anthony Rapp publicly accused Spacey of sexually abusing him at a party in 1986 when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26. Rapp is currently suing Spacey in federal court.

Spacey was also charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in 2016, but prosecutors were forced to drop that charge after the alleged victim refused to testify.

In 2019 an anonymous masseur sued Spacey for allegedly assaulting him during a massage. The alleged victim died later that year and the actor settled with the accuser's family.

Spacey is an Oscar-winning actor and was the lead of the Netflix hit House of Cards, until he was written out of the show following the sexual assault allegations. He was set to star in the Ridley Scott directed thriller All the Money in the World when he was replaced at the last minute by Christopher Plummer.

Correction May 26, 2022

A previous version of the story said the Crown Prosecution Service had charged Spacey. The CPS later released a revised statement saying it had authorized the charges.

In 'Men,' the men are definitely not alright : Pop Culture Happy Hour : NPR******

In 'Men,' the men are definitely not alright

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In 'Men,' the men are definitely not alright

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Jessie Buckley stars in Men.

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In Men, Jessie Buckley plays Harper, whose estranged husband (Paapa Essiedu) has recently died in a horrific manner. To decompress, she rents out a quiet stately home in the English countryside from Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear). It doesn't take long before her trip is disturbed by increasingly strange and invasive occurrences. The film was written and directed by Alex Garland, whose previous features include Ex Machinaand Annihilation.

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Man who designed X******

The designer of the X-wing and other iconic 'Star Wars' ships has died

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Colin Cantwell, who worked on 2001: A Space Odysseyand helped design ships for Star Wars, is pictured here in a 2017 photo in Boulder, Colorado.

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Colin Cantwell, the behind-the-scenes designer who dreamt up several of the famous spacecraft that rocketed through the Star Warsfranchise, died on Saturday. He was 90.

His longtime partner, Sierra Dall, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.

From a young age, Cantwell was interested in both space and design, according to a biography on his website. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in animation and was personally invited to study architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, though the architect died before Cantwell could study with him. Cantwell went on to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA.

Eventually he brought his interests to the big screen.

Cantwell worked on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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He notably designed several of the well-known ships in the 1977 space opera Star Wars, including the TIE fighter and the X-wing.

Cantwell also helped create the Death Star, the imposing spherical base for some of the film's villains.

He told the website Westword in 2019 that the trench encircling the ship actually came about by accident. While he was making a model of the ship for director George Lucas, Cantwell discovered that the two halves of the styrene globe wouldn't fit together, something that would have been nearly impossible to hide on camera.

On May the 4th, let's remember the time NPR had a 'Star Wars' radio drama

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On May the 4th, let's remember the time NPR had a 'Star Wars' radio drama

"So I thought about a solution and contacted George for approval: have a trench in the Death Star where the opposing sides would be shooting at each other in dramatic fight scenes. The result would be sending a missile into a tiny hole in the Death Star," Cantwell said. "George said 'yes' to the changes, and the iconic Death Star fight scene was born."

Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic said in an Instagram post that their staff members were "saddened" to learn of Cantwell's death.

"Colin was a trailblazing artist and designer, and a close collaborator of George Lucas," the post read. "Colin's contributions to the @StarWars legacy are felt to this day, having influenced the design language of many of our favorite ships."

Cantwell worked on other films including WarGamesand Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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Rosmarie Trapp, whose family inspired 'The Sound of Music,' dies : NPR******

Rosmarie Trapp, whose family inspired 'The Sound of Music,' dies at age 93

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Rosmarie Trapp, whose Austrian family the von Trapps was made famous in the musical and beloved movie "The Sound of Music," has died.

She died Friday at the age of 93 at a nursing home in Morrisville, Vermont, Trapp Family Lodge announced. Her brother Johannes is president of the Stowe resort.

Rosmarie was the first daughter of Austrian naval Capt. Georg von Trapp and Maria von Trapp, and a younger half-sibling to the older von Trapp children portrayed on stage and in the movie. The family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and performed singing tours throughout Europe and America. They settled in Vermont in the early 1940s and opened a ski lodge in Stowe.

"She traveled and performed with the Trapp Family Singers for many years, and worked at the Trapp Family Lodge in its infancy when the family first began hosting guests in their home," Trapp Family Lodge said in a statement.

"Her kindness, generosity, and colorful spirit were legendary, and she had a positive impact on countless lives," the statement said.

"The Sound of Music," was based loosely on a 1949 book by Maria von Trapp. Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, had seven children. After his first wife died, Georg married Maria, who taught the children music.

Georg and Maria von Trapp had three more children, Rosmarie, Eleonore and Johannes, who were not portrayed in the movie. Eleonore "Lorli" von Trapp Campbell died in October in Northfield, Vermont.

When she became a U.S. citizen in 1951, she signed her name as Rosmarie Trapp, leaving out von, according to the lodge.

Rosmarie worked for five years as a missionary and teacher in Papua New Guinea with her sister Maria, her relatives said. In Stowe, she was known for walking everywhere, frequently pulling her purchases home in a wagon or cart. She also wrote frequent letters to the local newspaper, where she was given her own space, "Rosmarie's Corner," for her stories, they said. She led sing-alongs, knitting circles, spun wool, owned multiple thrift shops and loved to teach people to sing, they said.

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'Top Gun: Maverick' review: Tom Cruise stars in this high******

'Top Gun: Maverick' is ridiculous. It's also ridiculously entertaining

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'Top Gun: Maverick' is ridiculous. It's also ridiculously entertaining

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Tom Cruise is back as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick.

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In one of the more memorable lines in the original Top Gun, Maverick gets chewed out by a superior who tells him, "Son, your ego's writing checks your body can't cash."

Sometimes I wonder if Tom Cruise took that putdown as a personal challenge. No movie star seems to work harder or push himself further than Cruise these days. He just keeps going and going, whether he's scaling skyscrapers in a new Mission: Impossibleadventure or showing a bunch of fresh-faced pilots how it's done in the ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining Top Gun: Maverick.

'Top Gun 2' Means One More Ride Into The Danger Zone

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'Top Gun 2' Means One More Ride Into The Danger Zone

Sorry, Tom Cruise Fans — New 'Top Gun' And 'Mission Impossible' Movies Delayed Again

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Sorry, Tom Cruise Fans — New 'Top Gun' And 'Mission Impossible' Movies Delayed Again

Cruise was in his early 20s when he first played Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, the cocky young Navy pilot with the aviator sunglasses, the Kawasaki motorcycle and the need for speed. In the sequel, he's as arrogant and insubordinate as ever: Now a Navy test pilot in his late 50s, Maverick still knows how to tick off his superiors, as we see in an exciting opening sequence where he pushes a new plane beyond its limits. Partly as punishment, he's ordered to return to TOPGUN, the elite pilot-training school, and train its best and brightest for an impossibly dangerous new mission.

One of his trainees is a hotheaded young pilot called Rooster, played by Miles Teller. Rooster is the son of Maverick's beloved wingman, Goose, who tragically died while flying with Maverick in the first Top Gun. Maverick's lingering guilt over Goose's death affects his relationship with Rooster; so does his desire to protect Rooster from harm, which generates some suspense over whether he'll end up choosing the young man for the assignment.

The three screenwriters of 'Top Gun: Maverick' ... have taken the threads of the original and spun them into an intergenerational male weepie: a dad movie of truly epic proportions.

Justin Chang

And so the three screenwriters of Top Gun: Maverick — including Cruise's regular Mission: Impossiblewriter-director, Christopher McQuarrie — have taken the threads of the original and spun them into an intergenerational male weepie, a dad movie of truly epic proportions. They're tapping into nostalgia for the original, while aiming for new levels of emotional grandeur. To that end, the soundtrack features a Lady Gaga song, "Hold My Hand." It's nowhere near as iconic a chart topper as the original movie's "Take My Breath Away," but tugs at your heartstrings nonetheless.

Much of the plot is unabashedly derivative of the first Top Gun. Once again, Maverick runs afoul of growling authority figures, here played by Ed Harris and Jon Hamm. Cruise's former co-star Kelly McGillis is nowhere to be seen, but Maverick does get another perfunctory love interest, a bartender named Penny, nicely played by Jennifer Connelly despite the thanklessness of the role.

Lady Gaga, 'Hold My Hand'

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Lady Gaga, 'Hold My Hand'

What's interesting about Top Gun: Maverickis how it isn'tlike its predecessor, mostly in terms of style. The first Top Gun, directed on a relatively low budget by the late Tony Scott, combined the aesthetics of a military recruitment video with some of the ripest homoerotic imagery ever seen in a major Hollywood movie. For better or worse, the sequel, directed by Joseph Kosinski of Tron: Legacyand Oblivion, is a much tamer, slicker, classier affair. Maverick no longer struts around in towels and tighty-whities, though he can still fly a plane like nobody's business.

The action sequences are much more thrilling and immersive than in the original. You feel like you're really in the cockpit with these pilots, and that's because you are: The actors underwent intense flight training and flew actual planes during shooting. In that respect, Top Gun: Maverickfeels like a throwback to a lost era of practical moviemaking, before computer-generated visual effects took over Hollywood. You start to understand why Cruise, the creative force behind the movie, was so driven to make it: In telling a story where older and younger pilots butt heads, and state-of-the-art F-18s duke it out with rusty old F-14s, he's trying to show us that there's room for the old and the new to coexist. He's also advancing a case for the enduring appeal of the movies and their power to transport us with viscerally gripping action and big, sweeping emotions.

Which brings us to the movie's most powerful scene, in which Val Kilmer briefly reprises his role as Iceman, Maverick's former nemesis-turned-friend. Kilmer is, in some respects, Cruise's opposite: a onetime star whose career never quite found its groove, and who's been beset by health issues in recent years, including the loss of his voice due to throat cancer. His soulful presence here gives this high-flying melodrama the grounding it needs. Cruise may be this movie's immortal star, but it's Kilmer's aching performance that takes your breath away.

Is there tea left in the kettle for 'Downton Abbey: A New Era'? : Pop Culture Happy Hour : NPR******

Is there tea left in the kettle for 'Downton Abbey: A New Era'?

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Is there tea left in the kettle for 'Downton Abbey: A New Era'?

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Harry Hadden-Paton, Laura Carmichael, Tuppence Middleton and Allen Leech star in Downton Abbey: A New Era.

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Downton Abbeyis back again. Three years after the 2019 movie that extended the popular TV series, the Crawleys are once again dealing with the clash of the old ways and the new ways. This time, the interloper is early Hollywood. While a director, a crew, and a bunch of actors descend upon the estate for filming, the story also travels to the south of France for a story that might reveal secrets from the Dowager Countess' past.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the Cannes Film Festival. : NPR******

Zelenskyy urges Cannes filmmakers not to be silent

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video during the opening of the Cannes film festival on Tuesday.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an impassioned speech at the opening ceremonies of the 75th Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera on Tuesday.

He told the elegantly dressed audience, "Hundreds of people are dying every day. They won't get up again after the clapping at the end."

In a video message, Zelenskyy said the film industry needed a new Charlie Chaplin who would prove that today's cinema isn't "silent." He also showed a clip from Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now.

Speaking in Ukrainian, Zelenskyy quoted from Chaplin's final speech in The Great Dictator, "Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical."

"I am convinced," said Zelenskyy, "that the dictator is going to lose."

After showing a clip from Apocalypse Now, Zelenskyy told the audience that the war scenes are "terrible" on the screen, "but they've become a reality." He talked about the constant attacks and the hundreds of people dying every day. "Will the cinema keep quiet or will it speak up?" He continued, "Everything depends on our unity."

Cannes officials barred Russians connected to Putin's government from participating in this year's festival. Films to be shown include the documentary The Natural History of Destructionby Sergey Loznitsa who was born in Belarus and educated in Ukraine and Russia. According to the synopsis, the World War II film asks the question, "Is it morally acceptable to use civilian population as a means of war?" The festival also includes Mariupolis 2, the final film by Lithuanian documentarian Mantas Kvedaravicius who was killed while reporting from Ukraine. His widow, Hanna Bilobrova, who was with him at the time, will introduce the film.

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The new Downton Abbey film is here, and its creator says misery isn't compulsory : NPR******

The new Downton Abbey film is here, and its creator says misery isn't compulsory

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The new Downton Abbey film is here, and its creator says misery isn't compulsory

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Downton Abbey: A New Era film trailer.

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Try as he may, Julian Fellowes can't seem to escape the Crawley family and their antics.

It might be because Fellowes is the executive producer and creator of Downton Abbey, the smash hit television series that spanned six seasons and one movie spin-off, focusing on the lives and legacies of fading nobility in the Yorkshire countryside. This, of course, includes plenty of drama, betrayal and lies; think The Kardashianswith British accents and a lot less spray tan.

Despite many plot lines seeing resolution in the eponymous 2019 film adaptation, Fellowes and the Crawley family are back with Downton Abbey: A New Eraset for release in theaters this week.

Fellowes spoke with All Things Consideredabout what lies ahead in this new chapter, the relatability of aristocrats in our modern age, and the excess of misery in modern media.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Downton Abbey is back, but this time the family is going on the road to France.

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On just wanting people to watch his movies and enjoy themselves

Yes — cry a bit, laugh a bit. Sometimes you hope you've sort of provoked a reasonably interesting thought they'll consider later when they're, you know, sitting in the traffic, waiting for the light to change. I mean, I feel a strong part of the entertainment industry is to entertain. I'm not really trying to provoke the French Revolution. You know, I just like to make people think about things, maybe change their attitude.

On telling the story of a privileged white family for a modern audience

I mean, we're looking at a certain way of life. It involves some privileged people. It involves more unprivileged people. In my own head, among the servants, you get the different types. You get the ones who are resentful and unhappy like O'Brien. You get the ones who adore the family and worship them and see them as their soap opera like Carson. You get the ones for whom it was a job, who I am quite sure were in the vast majority, like Mrs. Hughes. And I think that's a fairly truthful reflection of that society.

Fresh Air

'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes & Maggie Smith

I think in the end, you know, when you're going to make any film, any TV show and write a book, what you're trying to do is to tell a reasonably truthful story about a group of people. I mean, this modern thing, present thing that nothing is valid that isn't about misery — I don't agree with that. I think misery is fine to investigate and to dramatize and all the rest of it, but I don't think it's compulsory.

On the longevity of the Downton Abbeyfranchise

I'm not going to go on forever. So I think there would be a real difficulty getting Downton to go on forever. Whether it's come to an end or not, I couldn't tell you.

One of the other things is that during the lifetime of Downton, the whole nature of showbiz, of how you make films, of how they're released, the platforms — all of this is different from what it was 15 years ago — I mean, quite different. Now, of course, people complain about it one way. But I think it also is constantly throwing up new opportunities, new chances, new ways of doing things. And, you know, I like that. I think that's interesting. And I like being part of it. So if Downtonis to be reborn in a different shape or size, then, you know, I hope I'm part of that.

This interview was produced for radio by Mallory Yu and edited by Sarah Handel. It was adapted for the web by Manuela Lopez Restrepo.

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'Memoria' review: Tilda Swinton stars in a sonic detective story : NPR******

'Memoria' is a marvelously strange sonic detective story

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'Memoria' is a marvelously strange sonic detective story

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Jessica (Tilda Swinton) consults an engineer (Juan Pablo Urrego) in an effort to understand the mysterious sound she's hearing in Memoria.

Neon films

I'm a huge fan of the Thai writer-director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which doesn't do much to dispel the widely held assumption that he makes movies only a critic could love. Weerasethakul's films, like Tropical Maladyand Syndromes and a Century, certainly demand close attention: They're slow-paced and contemplative, steeped in Thai folklore and Buddhist belief, and they have little interest in conventional narrative. They're also thrilling and deeply moving; if you go into them with your eyes and ears wide open and take the time to adjust to their rhythms, it's hard not to fall under their spell.

Weerasethakul's new movie is called Memoria, and while it's as marvelously strange as anything he's ever made, it's also a bit of a departure. It's his first feature shot entirely outside Thailand, and it also marks his first time working with a movie star, in this case, the great Tilda Swinton. She's quietly mesmerizing as a Scottish-born botanist named Jessica, who lives in Medellín, Colombia. She's recently come to the city of Bogotá to visit her sister, who's recovering from a mysterious illness. The movie begins when Jessica is awakened in the middle of the night by a loud bang.

Tilda Swinton May Be A Rock Star, But Her New Film Leaves Her Speechless

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Tilda Swinton May Be A Rock Star, But Her New Film Leaves Her Speechless

In the days to come, Jessica will hear that bang again and again, and soon she realizes that she's the only one who can hear it. Memoriais a sonic detective story, and it follows Jessica around town as she tries to figure out what the sound is, and why she's hearing it. She visits a young sound engineer named Hernán, played by Juan Pablo Urrego, who tries to help re-create the noise using pre-recorded sound effects. Speaking in a mix of Spanish and English, Jessica describes the sound as "a big ball of concrete that falls into a metal well."

Jessica's investigation leads her in a lot of strange directions. She visits an archeologist who's studying some recently excavated human remains that may have something to do with the sound she's hearing. She spends some more time with Hernán, but then he suddenly vanishes, leaving her — and us — to wonder if she's losing her grip on reality.

Eventually Jessica travels to a nearby mountain village and meets an older fisherman, curiously also named Hernán, played by Elkin Díaz. Could they be two different versions of the same person? It wouldn't be a surprise in Weerasethakul's world, which is full of parallel realities and reincarnated spirits.

Hernán says he's both blessed and cursed by his ability to remember everything that has ever happened to him, which provides a clue as to the significance of Memoria's title. It all builds to a climax that left my jaw on the floor, as we finally find out what's been causing that sound — though as always with Weerasethakul, the revelation yields more questions than answers.

But while Memoria has its share of baffling moments, Swinton's restrained presence anchors every scene. There's something especially emotional about the time Jessica spends with the older Hernán, in which we see two people who have never met forge an inexplicable yet profound connection. You can't take your eyes off Swinton, even when she's simply sitting still and quietly listening to someone speak. You're reminded, in these moments, that just listening to someone can be an act of radical empathy.

There were a lot of mixed reactions last year when the film distributor Neon announced that Memoriawould only be shown on the big screen, as part of a never-ending road-tour-style release. As of now, there are no plans for the movie to be made available on DVD or streaming platforms. There's something refreshing about this approach, which treats Memorianot as just another chunk of disposable, streamable content, but as a work of art whose crystalline images and intricate sound design demand to be experienced under the best possible conditions. I hope you'll get to experience Memoria, as it's one of the most transporting movies you'll see — or hear — in a theater this year.

Fred Ward, the star of Tremors, The Right Stuff, dead at 79 : NPR******

Actor Fred Ward dies. He had the right stuff in movies from 'Tremors' to 'The Player'

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Actor Fred Ward has died, according to his publicist, Ron Hofmann.

The star, who brought gentlemanly gruffness to films that included The Right Stuff,Henry and Juneand The Player died Sunday, May 8 at the age of 79. No cause of death was given.

Ward brought reservoirs of tenderness to his tough guy roles, and plenty of street credibility. A former boxer, lumberjack and short-order cook who served in the U.S. Air Force, Ward went to acting school and got his start when he moved to Rome as a young man and worked as a mime, then a voice-over actor. That led to a few appearances in TV productions by Italian neorealist pioneer Roberto Rossellini. Ward made his U.S. movie debut as a convict alongside Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz in 1979.

"The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices," Hofmann wrote in an email. "He could play such diverse characters as Remo Williams, a cop trained by Chiun, Master of Sinanju (Joel Grey) to become an unstoppable assassin in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, or Earl Bass, who, alongside Kevin Bacon, battle giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh in 'cult' horror/comedy film, Tremors (1990), or a detective in the indie film Two Small Bodies (1993) directed by underground filmmaker Beth B., or a terrorist planning to blow up the Academy Awards in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), or the father of the lead character in Jennifer Lopez's revenge thriller Enough (2002)."

Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward and his son Django Ward.

Netflix alters corporate culture memo, stresses artistic freedom : NPR******

Netflix alters corporate culture memo to stress the importance of artistic freedom

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Netflix has changed its corporate culture memo to warn employees that it will include content with viewpoints they may find harmful.

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Anyone looking for a job at Netflix will be greeted with something different when they check out the company's statement on its internal culture. First reported by Variety, Netflix has added a section on "Artistic Expression," that commits to allowing audience members make their own choices.

"We program for a diversity of audiences and tastes," the statement reads. "And we let viewers decide what's appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices. "

The memo goes on to say that employees may have to work on content that they "perceive as harmful," warning that if this is difficult for them to accomplish, "Netflix may not be the best place for you."

This is a relatively major change compared to an archived version of the statement from as recently as April, that doesn't have much to say about the actual content on the platform, and is more focused on interpersonal relationships at the company.

Netflix fires employee as internal conflicts over latest Dave Chappelle special grow

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Netflix fires employee as internal conflicts over latest Dave Chappelle special grow

There are a few other important changes, too. One section reads "Representation Matters," where the company promises to improve "so that everyone feels a sense of belonging at Netflix." And another section addresses "Ethical Expectations," where the company says it expects all employees to protect confidential information "whether or not it is marked 'confidential.' "

Last fall, Netflix fired B. Pagels-Minor, a leader of the company's internal transgender and non-binary employee resource group, for allegedly leaking internal data about metrics and money that eventually made it to an article on Bloomberg News. Pagels-Minor told NPR that they collected the data for an internal memo, but denied leaking it. This was happening as Netflix was facing criticism for comments about trans people made in the Dave Chappelle special The Closer. The tensions at the company eventually led to Netflix employees staging a walkout.

Netflix has lately been struggling to keep its place at the top of the ever-crowded streaming battles. In April, the company lost subscribers for the first time in a decade, citing password sharing as the main reason. That same month, the company laid off members of its fan-focused editorial arm, Tudum, after courting many women of color to join the team. Now there are reports that the company is planning on rolling out a lower-priced tier that includes commercials.

'Pleasure': A young woman's matter******

'Pleasure': A young woman's matter-of-fact pursuit of porn stardom

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Sofia Kappel is Bella Cherry in Pleasure.

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While the screen is still black and as the opening credits begin rolling, the unmistakable sound of sex fills the space for several seconds: men grunting and panting, a woman gagging and panting, slaps, expletives, groans of implied ecstasy.

This is how Pleasure begins, and if you, the viewer, weren't already aware of the basic premise of the film, this jolt to the senses serves as a vivid warning of what to expect. There will be explicit depictions of sex, and a not small amount of it.

Pleasureis out in select theaters on Friday, May 13.

This is not, however, by any means an "erotic" Hollywood movie, the sort audiences have been mourning the loss of as of late. Instead, Pleasure, the feature debut of Swedish writer/director Ninja Thyberg, is an arresting workplace drama-meets-bildungsroman that demystifies the adult film industry without flat-out demonizing it – a delicate balance to strike.

Upon arrival at the airport in Los Angeles, a young Swedish woman named Bella Cherry (newcomer Sofia Kappel) is asked by the customs agent why she's here: Business or pleasure? Her answer is hinted at in the title, though the divide between the two is blurred and challenged almost immediately. In a subversive twist on the fantasy of the American Dream, Bella has a single-minded aspiration toward porn stardom; this isn't the tale of a fresh-faced innocent who unwittingly stumbles into porn while pursuing Hollywood dreams of becoming a professional actress or model; nor is this the story of a damaged drifter who goes down the "wrong" path because she sees no other options for survival. As she tells it anytime someone in the business asks, Why come all the way out here to do ... *this*?:She's a natural exhibitionist who finds joy in performing sex work. "I love being in front of the camera, I love having people watching me."

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Still, as Bella is soon to learn, the adult film industry is a business. And in matters of mixing business with pleasure, the business often takes priority.

Thyberg's first iteration of Pleasure was a short film of the same name that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. To make the feature, the filmmaker spent several years observing the contours of the industry first-hand, visiting porn sets and living for a time in a house shared by adult film performers, just as Bella does in the movie.

This immersion is evident in the casting, where the ensemble is made up almost entirely of people who actually work in porn, like Revika Reustle as Bella's housemate and friend Joy, and Chris Cock (so named because, yes, he kind of looks and sounds like Chris Rock) as Bear, an older performer who acts as a sort of informal big brother/mentor type to Bella. (Kappel is an exception – this is her first film ever.) It would be a stretch to call their performances a revelation, but there's a naturalistic and unstudied ease with which they carry the scenes that's reminiscent of any number of performers in a Sean Baker movie, and it works.

Pleasure, the feature debut of Swedish writer/director Ninja Thyberg, is an arresting workplace drama-meets-bildungsroman that demystifies the adult film industry without flat-out demonizing it – a delicate balance to strike.

During scenes of porn shoots, Pleasure alternates between Bella's point of view, and the perspective of the film's director. In this shot, Bella sits on a couch in front of a camera.Enlarge this image NEON During scenes of porn shoots, Pleasure alternates between Bella's point of view, and the perspective of the film's director. In this shot, Bella sits on a couch in front of a camera.NEON

Thyberg's commitment to achieving a certain level of authenticity also shines through her lens, which reveals an intense curiosity for examining the details of what goes into creating professional porn. During depictions of porn shoots, the filmmaker alternates between Bella's point of view, staring down the probing eye of the camera, and that of the director's camera itself, putting the audience in the visceral position of both voyeur and performer. Thyberg also taps into the mundanity of it all – the pre-interviews and paper work required before a shoot; the production set-ups, staging, and choreography of the scenes; the networking, schmoozing, and fraternizing that goes on away from the set.

The film captures the fickle nature of freelance life, where each gig comes with its own unique perks, challenges, and drawbacks, all set and enforced (or not) by whichever person happens to be your boss that day. The stakes of this arrangement are heightened in the world of adult film, where consent is ostensibly regulated but not always practiced on set. As Bella works gigs, Pleasure shows versions of the good, bad, and everything in between – including a director who takes every precaution to ensure everyone feels safe on set, and directors whose "benevolent" approaches to coercion raise so many red flags they could easily stand in as examples in a workplace training video of how not to behave.

A fair warning: One scene in particular depicts a worst-case scenario that might be triggering for some viewers. But Thyberg isn't all that interested in dwelling on this upsetting experience anymore than she does the others. The show must go on, and Bella remains committed to her pursuits, which boil down to becoming a Spiegler Girl, the crème de la crème of the business who are revered for having essentially zero limits as to what they're willing to do on camera. (Talent agent Mark Spiegler plays a version of himself here.)

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Summer Guide: Movies, TV and Music We Can't Wait For

Summer Guide: Movies, TV and Music We Can't Wait For

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For all its audacity, Bella remains largely a mystery. Virtually nothing is revealed of her origins aside from the fact her mom believes she's come to America for an internship, and there's no sense of what she's into or what she's like when she's not trying to be "the next big porn star."

But Kappel's performance manages to side-step most of those criticisms – husky-voiced and convincingly driven, she plays Bella as at once inexperienced and exceptionally eager to get what she wants by any means necessary, a potent combination. (There are elements of an Eve Harrington-meets-Showgirlssituation, though that's hardly the main focus and the movie never veers too sharply into melodrama or camp.) Perhaps most importantly, Kappel doesn't seem to judge the character, who at times makes puzzling, worrisome, or just plain awful choices in her ascension within the industry.

Pleasure,then, is not easily categorized as a cautionary tale; matter-of-fact feels more apt. And that's largely its greatest strength, especially at a time when many performers and advocates are pushing to reframe the conversations around sex work and women's agency to be less about moralizing and more about treating it like any other job that should have protections and support in place for employees. The film is firmly in conversation with those debates, and it's brazen, but thoughtful, in how it goes about it.


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'Rust' producers defend safety measures before shootings on the Alec Baldwin film set : NPR******

'Rust' producers defend safety measures before shootings on the Alec Baldwin film set

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In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, Alec Baldwin gestures while talking with investigators following a fatal shooting last year on the Rustmovie set in Santa Fe, N.M. AP hide caption

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In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, Alec Baldwin gestures while talking with investigators following a fatal shooting last year on the Rustmovie set in Santa Fe, N.M.

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SANTA FE, N.M. — A film production company is contesting sanctions by New Mexico officials for alleged workplace safety violations on the set of Rust, where actor and producer Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in October, according to filings posted Wednesday by state regulators.

Rust Movie Productions is challenging the basis of a $137,000 fine against the company by state occupational safety regulators who say production managers on the set of the Western film failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety.

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At a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins inside a small church during setup for the filming of a scene when it went off, killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza.

Baldwin said in a December interview with ABC News that he was pointing the gun at Hutchins at her instruction when it went off without his pulling the trigger.

"The law properly permits producers to delegate such critical functions as firearm safety to experts in that field and does not place such responsibility on producers whose expertise is in arranging financing and contracting for the logistics of filming," Rust Movie Productions said in its filing. The company "did not 'willfully' violate any safety protocol, and in fact enforced all applicable safety protocols."

In April, New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau imposed the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions and distributed a scathing narrative of safety failures, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires of blank ammunition on set prior to the fatal shooting.

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Alec Baldwin argues he's not liable for Hutchins' death, in filing against producers

The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.

Rust Movie Productions responded in its filing by saying that misfires prior to the fatal shooting of Hutchins did not violate safety protocols and that "appropriate corrective actions were taken, including briefings of cast and crew."

"In fact, a safety meeting was held the morning of the incident," the company said, apparently referring to the shooting of Hutchins. The filing does not elaborate further.

Rust Movie Productions also is challenging allegations that film set armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed was overburdened, asserting that she had sufficient time to properly inspect and safeguard all firearms and ammunition on set. The production company cites comments by a costume designer who said Reed had "plenty of time" to do her job properly.

State investigators say that Gutierrez Reed was limited to eight paid days as an armorer to oversee weapons and training, and was assigned otherwise to lighter duties as a props assistant. As her time as an armorer ran out, Gutierrez Reed warned a manager and was rebuffed.

The sheriff investigating the fatal film-set shooting has described disorganization and neglected safety measures in the making of the low-budget movie. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza has said he is waiting on a forensic analysis of the weapon, projectile, fingerprints and more from the FBI and state medical examiners before turning the case over to prosecutors to decide whether criminal charges will be filed.

State findings and sanctions against Rust Movie Productions hold implications for at least five lawsuits that have been filed over the shooting, including a wrongful death suit brought by Hutchins' family against Baldwin and the movie's other producers.

The lawsuit on behalf of widower Matt Hutchins and his 9-year-old son alleges a "callous" disregard in the face of safety complaints on the set.

The state fines would apply to a film with a budget of about $7 million. Baldwin was assigned a salary of $250,000 as an actor and producer and may have put some of that money back into the production.

Rust Movie Productions says in its filing that all personnel on set were instructed that they had authority to cease activities at any time until safety concerns were resolved, with film union stewards on site to ensure compliance with labor-union safety protocols.

Encore: NPR's 'Life Kit' shows you how to get into poetry : NPR******

Encore: NPR's 'Life Kit' shows you how to get into poetry

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It's Poetry Month! If you've ever thought about giving poetry a shot but find it dense or difficult to understand, NPR's Life Kit has got this guide for you on how to read poetry.

We need art right now. Here's how to get into poetry

Life Kit

We need art right now. Here's how to get into poetry

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Happy Poetry Month. Wait, are you saying poetry isn't your thing? Well, maybe it is time to give it a shot. NPR's Life Kit even has some tips for you on how to do that. Here's NPR's Andrew Limbong with your poetry on-ramp.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: You probably don't need an official month to get you to pick up a book or listen to music. But I promise you, poetry can offer you the same rush of feelings.

FRANNY CHOI: It's visceral to me, and I can't explain always what it is that gives me that feeling. It's just that when I have it, it's the only thing that matters.

LIMBONG: That's Franny Choi, poet and co-host of the poetry podcast "VS" - as in V-S, the abbreviation, by the way. And she says a love of poetry comes not from your head but from your gut, which is our first bit of advice when it comes to appreciating poetry. Try and forget how you learned it in school.

CHOI: Most commonly, people are taught that the way to engage with a poem is by parsing it, by trying to understand it and master it and be able to write an essay about it. And I think that keeps us from really developing personal relationships to poetry.

LIMBONG: Sure, learning about similes and meter and form has its place, but it's not like you have to know a thing about cinematography to appreciate a movie, right? Which brings us to our next tips, which are, one, read the poem out loud, and then, two, visualize the poem. Poet and UCLA professor Harryette Mullen says, think of the poem you're reading like a movie you're directing.

HARRYETTE MULLEN: What colors would you use? What kind of setting would there be? Can you imagine the speaker? Does the speaker seem to be male or female or both or neither or indeterminate? What might the speaker be wearing?

LIMBONG: I asked Mullen if I could try this out on one of her poems.

MULLEN: OK.

LIMBONG: If that works (laughter).

MULLEN: We'll see.

LIMBONG: So it's called "Still Waiting." And then it says, for Alison Saar.

(Reading) Please approach with care these figures in black. Regard with care the weight they bear, the scars that mark their hearts. Do you think you can handle these bodies of graphite and coal dust? This color might rub off. A drop of this red liquid could stain your skin. This black powder could blow you sky high. No ordinary pigments blacken our blues. Would you mop the floor with this bucket of blood? Would you rinse your soiled laundry in this basin of tears? Would you suckle hot milk from this cracked vessel? Would you be baptized in this fountain of funky sweat? Please approach with care these bodies are still waiting to be touched. We invite you to come closer. We permit you to touch and be touched. We hope you will engage with care.

MULLEN: Nicely done.

LIMBONG: Oh, I was very nervous.

I told her what I saw - someone dressed in dirty, dusty coveralls making a speech at an auditorium or something. It didn't match her intention when writing the poem, but that's OK because our last tip is there are no wrong answers. Trust yourself as much as you trust the poet.

MULLEN: This is so wonderful, because when I write something, I know what I'm thinking when I'm writing it. And what is so interesting to me and what I'm always curious about is, how does the reader experience that? Because obviously, it's going to be different because the reader was not right with me when I wrote it. And, you know, even if I tell you exactly what I thought and where I was and all of that, it's still going to be a different poem for you, for any reader.

LIMBONG: And hopefully with some of this advice in mind, you'll be one of those readers.

Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

'True Story': reality TV's influence : It's Been a Minute : NPR******

'True Story': Danielle Lindemann on 'What Reality TV Says About Us'

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'True Story': Danielle Lindemann on 'What Reality TV Says About Us'

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Danielle Lindemann, author of True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us.

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In this new special episode of It's Been a Minute, we share a conversation Sam Sanders recorded about one of his favorite things: reality TV. He's joined by Danielle Lindemann, author of True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us, to discuss the genre's origins in Real Worldand Survivor, how reality TV influences our culture, and why we should all take the genre more seriously.

Television

Looking At Reality TV

This episode was produced by Liam McBain. It was edited by Jordana Hochman. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at ibam@npr.org.

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vibe shift; Conversations with People Who Hate Me : It's Been a Minute : NPR******

The vibe has shifted; plus 'Conversations with People Who Hate Me'

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You may see it in the news or on social media. You may be feeling different in your relationships or with your job. The "vibe" has shifted. Our guest host Jasmine Garsd is joined by Elamin Abdelmahmoud, culture writer for BuzzFeed Newsand host of CBC's pop culture podcast Pop Chat, to learn more about this vibe shift and why we all may be feeling a little off right now.

Plus, a chat with Dylan Marron, author and host of the book/show Conversations with People Who Hate Me on how he talks to people with opposing views. That'sfollowed by a game of Who Said That with Jonny Sun.

This episode of 'It's Been a Minute' was produced by Liam McBain, Anjuli Sastry Krbechek, Andrea Gutierrez, Jinae West and Janet Woojeong Lee. Our intern is Aja Drain. We had engineering help from Neal Rauch. Our editor is Jordana Hochman. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at ibam@npr.org.

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'Young Mungo' review: Douglas Stuart's new novel is a nuanced heartbreaker : NPR******

Brace yourself for 'Young Mungo,' a nuanced heartbreaker of a novel

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Brace yourself for 'Young Mungo,' a nuanced heartbreaker of a novel

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Young Mungo, by Douglas StewartGrove Atlantic

A coming-of-age story about a gay, working-class boy set in 1980s Glasgow, in which the characters sometimes speak in Scots dialect. Such a tale is not an easy sell, which is why Douglas Stuart's debut novel, Shuggie Bain,was initially turned down by over 30 publishers before finding an audience and eventually winning the Booker Prize in 2020.

It's tough to follow such a success story, but if Stuart was cowed, his latest novel doesn't betray any artistic hesitations. Young Mungo, like its predecessor, is a nuanced and gorgeous heartbreaker of a novel. Reading it is like peering into the apartment of yet another broken family whose Glasgow tenement might be down the road from Shuggie Bain's.

The two characters, in fact, share some crucial similarities: like Shuggie, 15-year-old Mungo Hamilton is gay and Mungo's mother is also an alcoholic. What's different about Stuart's new novel is its form: The outer frame here is a suspense story; a story not just of innocence lost, but slaughtered.

'Shuggie Bain' Will Lift You Up — And Tear You Up

Author Interviews

'Shuggie Bain' Will Lift You Up — And Tear You Up

The novel opens on a scene of Mungo being led away from his tenement home as his mother, drinking a tea mug of fortified wine, watches impassively from a window. He's, reluctantly, in the company of two men, strangers, both hard-looking. They're taking Mungo off for a camping trip, where he's to be taught to gut fish, make a fire, learn to be a man.

Sandwiched between the two men in the back of a bus, Mungo has a bad feeling, so his chronic facial tic starts acting up. Mungo suffers from anxiety; as his kindly older sister, Jodie, reflects: "There was a gentleness to his being that put girls at ease; they wanted to make a pet of him. But that sweetness unsettled other boys."

Stuart structures this story mostly in the form of a flashback to the months preceding this menacing camping trip. As he did so deftly in Shuggie Bain, Stuart takes us readers deep into the working class world of Glasgow — here, circa early 1990s — where jobs and trade unions have been gutted.

Stuart, who grew up in this world, has said in interviews that he doesn't want to take middle class readers on what he's called a "working class poverty safari." Accordingly he doesn't translate, but lets the life of the tenements make itself known though his precisely observed and often wry style. For instance, here's a scene where Mungo has been summoned by his brother Hamish, a vicious teenage gang leader and new father. Mungo steps into the flat where Hamish and his gang are watching TV:

The settee had six of the boys from the builder's yard crammed on to it. They were packed thigh to thigh and spilled over the arms of the small sofa. In their nylon tracksuits they looked like so many plastic bags all stuffed together; ...

On the soundless television, an English woman was dipping a vase into liquid and showing the audience how to crackle glaze the surface of it. Each one of the young men was staring slack-jawed at the screen. On the low table in front of them sat a bundle of folded nappies amongst a pile of stolen car radios, half-drunk bottles of MD 20/20, and one very large tomahawk. . . .

The woman stopped glazing her vase and held it out for the cameras to see the intricate swirls. The young men looked from one to another in amazement; white pearls of acne flushed across their foreheads. "That's pure beautiful," said [a] ginger-headed boy. They all nodded in agreement."

Immediately after that art appreciation interlude, Hamish forcibly arms Mungo with a switchblade and insists Mungo accompany him on a job — all to toughen him up. The toxic masculinity of Mungo's world is as pervasive and aggressive as the beat of the techno music the gang listens to. Then, one day: deliverance. Mungo meets a boy named James who keeps pigeons in a dovecote on a sliver of nearby wasteland. They fall in love, and, as if that weren't dangerous enough, James is Catholic and Mungo is Protestant.

We readers know none of this will end well, but it's a testament to Stuart's unsparing powers as a storyteller that we can't possibly anticipate how very badly — and baroquely — things will turn out. Young Mungois a suspense story wrapped around a novel of acute psychological observation. It's hard to imagine a more disquieting and powerful work of fiction will be published anytime soon about the perils of being different.

Julissa Arce rejects assimilation in 'You Sound Like a White Girl' : It's Been a Minute : NPR******

Rejecting assimilation in 'You Sound Like a White Girl'

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Rejecting assimilation in 'You Sound Like a White Girl'

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Author Julissa Arce makes the case for rejecting assimilation in her latest book, You Sound Like a White Girl. Aly Honore hide caption

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Author Julissa Arce makes the case for rejecting assimilation in her latest book, You Sound Like a White Girl.

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A school crush once told Julissa Arce that she sounded "like a white girl." At the time, Arce believed that was exactly what she wanted. But over the years, even after perfecting "accent-less" English, graduating from college, getting a job at Goldman Sachs, and becoming an American citizen, Arce still felt like she didn't belong. Instead of just trying to fit in as the solution, Arce began to question whether that was the very problem to begin with. Elise Hu talks to Arce about her new book — You Sound Like a White Girl — and the case for rejecting assimilation in favor of embracing yourself, your history, and your culture.

This episode was produced by Jinae West with help from Andrea Gutierrez and edited by Jordana Hochman. We had engineering support from Gilly Moon. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at ibam@npr.org.

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Author of The Artist's Way on creativity and seeking wisdom : Life Kit : NPR******

How to make creativity part of your daily routine

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How to make creativity part of your daily routine

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Photograph of a journal open to a blank page with a pen sitting on top of the page. The journal itself sits on top of a blanket. There is a rainbow created by a prism coming in from the top left of the frame, creating the illusion of inspiration.Enlarge this image Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR Photograph of a journal open to a blank page with a pen sitting on top of the page. The journal itself sits on top of a blanket. There is a rainbow created by a prism coming in from the top left of the frame, creating the illusion of inspiration.Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR

Creativity can be elusive — whether you feel the pressure to make something "good" or can't find time for your artistic endeavors – it can be hard to dedicate yourself to a creative practice.

Julia Cameron, the author of the bestselling book The Artist's Way, has spent her career teaching "creative unblocking." In her new book, Seeking Wisdom: a spiritual path to creative connection, Cameron combines the creative practices of The Artist's Way, with a new intentional practice – prayer.

Cameron says that spirituality and prayer can deepen our creativity and vice versa. "I have found that if I teach people to work on their creativity, their spirituality wakes up. And if I try teaching about spirituality, their creativity wakes up."

These tips can help you commit to and deepen both your creative and spiritual practices.

Creative Practice #1: "Morning Pages"

This is the fundamental tool Cameron suggests for unblocking creativity. It "brings clarity, direction, and productivity to every area of our lives," says Cameron. Here's how they work:

First thing in the morning (Cameron says ideally no more than 45 minutes after waking), write three pages by hand about anything. Seriously, anything. The point is that you don't stop writing. If you're bored and can't think of what to write, write that.

Feeling lots of ... feelings? Journaling can help

Life Kit

Feeling Lots Of....Feelings? Journaling Can Help

"Morning Pages serve as a kind of 'brain drain'" says Cameron, "that allows you to release the worries, fears, and distractions standing between you and your day." Morning Pages are a low-pressure way to express yourself. As Cameron says, "there's no wrong way to do Morning Pages."

Just don't share your writing with anyone – these pages are meant to be a space where you can vent and share free of judgment, so don't censor yourself. It's OK if they turn into a grocery list, a rant at your sister or a poem.

Creative Practice #2: "Artist Date"

You don't have to consider yourself an artist to go on an Artist Date. Cameron describes it as a "once-a-week, solo adventure that you take just for fun." Cameron's students say they "find themselves befriending themselves" on these dates.

Learning a new skill can be hard. Here's how to set yourself up for success

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Learning a new skill can be hard. Here's how to set yourself up for success

Try and do something that delights you on your Artist Date: Eat at a new restaurant, peruse a bookstore, go to the beach or a movie. Your Artist Date doesn't need to be expensive – one of Cameron's favorite outings is to go visit bunnies at a pet store. The main point here is fun – do something fun and frivolous.

Creative Practice #3: Walks

Photograph of a daffodil with surrounded by small rainbows created by a prism.Enlarge this image Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR Photograph of a daffodil with surrounded by small rainbows created by a prism.Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR

Walks can help you "commune with your own thoughts," says Cameron. Twice a week, take a solo, twenty-minute walk. Leave your phone at home. Don't run an errand on your way or bring the dog or a friend with you. Go alone and just walk.

Walking isn't just a creative practice, it's a spiritual practice as well. "For centuries, spiritual seekers have walked — on quests, on pilgrimages, through labyrinths," says Cameron. Walking can be a way to connect to the world around you and to your higher power (however you define that).

Creative Practice #4: Prayer

Before you close this tab, know that Cameron defines prayer loosely. She's not mandating who you pray to or trying to define God for you. She just wants you to connect with a creative energy outside yourself.

Prayer will look, feel and sound different for all of us but it doesn't matter how it comes out – ultimately praying brings a kind of freedom, says Cameron. She suggests a few prayer practices for seeking wisdom:

Prayers of petition:This is what she calls the "Santa Clause" prayer. "You're asking for something, and you're hoping that the higher power will deliver it."

Cameron recommends being super honest when praying, but also to remember that we have a limited point of view. "You need to remind yourself that God is far-seeing ... and may have something better in store for you than what you yourself had planned."

Creativity can't be forced. Take breaks, zone out to find new inspiration

Life Kit

Creativity can't be forced. Take restorative breaks, zone out to find new inspiration

Look Inward To Make External Change: Advice From A Meditation Teacher

Life Kit

Look Inward To Make External Change: Advice From A Meditation Teacher

Prayers of guidance: Once a day, write down a question that you have about your life and "listen, and write out what comes back," she says. "The point is to be willing to ask, and then be open to receiving. The answers that you hear may surprise you."

For example, maybe you are not sure what form your creativity should take. You could ask: what should I do or make with my creative desire? See what answer arises.

Prayers of gratitude: Talk about what you're grateful for. "It might be, 'I'm grateful for my curly hair. I'm grateful for my dog.'"

This practice, Cameron says, can transform pessimism into optimism, which she believes is a boon for creativity. "We tend to believe in the image of a suffering artist. And that creativity is born out of pain. And what I have found is that creativity is born out of happiness, which is a radical step to take."


The podcast portion of this story was produced by Clare Marie Schneider, with engineering support from Daniel Shukhin.

We'd love to hear from you. If you have a good life hack, leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823or email us at LifeKit@npr.org. Your tip could appear in an upcoming episode.

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This Valentine's Day, we dive into the wild world of rom******

Rom-com movies have evolved. But they still need these 3 simple elements

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Rom-com movies have evolved. But they still need these 3 simple elements

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Rom-coms have been a go-to for Hollywood for years, but they have definitely evolved recently. Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

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Rom-coms have been a go-to for Hollywood for years, but they have definitely evolved recently.

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There's a lot of hype around romance on Valentine's Day, but what is love without laughter?

Romantic comedies — aka rom-coms — have been staple Hollywood fare for decades, but in recent years have undergone something of a transformation.

So grab that popcorn, find some chocolate, and drink something bubbly, because we're diving into the wonderful world of rom-coms — tackling everything from what the definition should be, why they were great (and sometimes not so great), and what a modern one looks like.

Our guide is Scott Meslow, who has just released his new book, From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy.

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Meg Ryan has starred in her fair share of rom-coms. Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Meg Ryan has starred in her fair share of rom-coms.

Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images

So what makes a rom-com?

This was one of the first questions Meslow grappled with, and so he came up with a simple test that he says anyone can try.

  1. Is the plot centered around a love story?
  2. Does it make you laugh more than it makes you cry?
  3. If you pull the love story out of the movie, is there still a movie or does the whole thing collapse?

"There's a reason it goes all the way back to Shakespeare," Meslow said. "There is something just fundamentally pleasing and satisfying about the arc of love. It's a story that many, many people can relate to in one way or another."

Rumors Of The Death Of The Rom-Com Are Greatly Exaggerated

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Rumors Of The Death Of The Rom-Com Are Greatly Exaggerated

"It's enjoyable to watch people spar and banter and fight about what they really want. And when they come together, I mean, that's as satisfying as it gets."

Meslow said the genius of his three-point test was its simplicity and its ability to correct some misconceptions.

Take Miss Congeniality, for example. The 2000 Sandra Bullock film is not a rom-com, according to Meslow.

"That is a comedy with a romantic subplot," he said. "Because it's a movie about an FBI agent going undercover at a beauty pageant, and she happens to fall in love in the course of her mission. You could still make a great movie about that without the love story."

On the other hand, Julia Roberts' 1997 hit, My Best Friend's Weddingis most definitely a rom-com, even though she doesn't get the guy at the end.

Who knew rom-coms could be so complex?

When rom-coms really took center stage

For Meslow, the late '80s through to the early 2000s were when rom-coms really hit the mainstream.

Just look at the playlist – When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Waiting to Exhale, My Best Friend's Wedding, Bridget Jones's Diary, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Love Actually, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.

And within those films, there are the now-memorable scenes. Like the "men and women can't be friends" debate in When Harry Met Sally.

"When Harry Met Sally" is a classic of the genre.

YouTube

The key to knowing if a rom-com has hit the sweet spot, Meslow said, was if you want to watch it again. And again. And again. And did the actors involved really sell it.

"Basically every major star of the era came up through rom-coms," Meslow said. "From Meg Ryan to Tom Hanks to Julia Roberts, all of these actors who went on to do lots of great work in lots of different genres came up through romantic comedies."

They did have their problems, though

After the rush of the '90s, Meslow said there was a dip when romantic comedies became a bit too contrived; when Hollywood tried to make each movie better than the last. For rom-coms, Meslow said this meant they became "untethered from reality."

At the same time, some filmmakers tried to modernize the love story, but missed the mark.

"Like, we're going to get into how the kids are dating these days, and it's going to be these casual hookups," Meslow said. "But inevitably, those movies turn into very traditional romantic comedies. They become stories about how the protagonists were wrong, they should not be having casual relationships, they should actually be in a traditional monogamous relationship."

Audiences didn't buy it, Meslow said — they can tell when they're being condescended or pandered to.

Diversity Sells — But Hollywood Remains Overwhelmingly White, Male

Code Switch

Diversity Sells — But Hollywood Remains Overwhelmingly White, Male

And then there's the issue with diversity, where the cast during this run of rom-coms was overwhelmingly white — a problem endemic to Hollywood, Meslow said, but particularly notable in rom-coms.

"It is one of those things that there is now halting progress on," he said. "And you can see that in a lot of the rom-coms that are coming out now. But I think for the ones at the time, to a degree, it's always just about cowardice. It's, 'The Meg Ryan movie did well, so who's a Meg Ryan type? Oh great, Sandra Bullock is an up-and-comer, let's put her in While You Were Sleeping'. And over and over again."

"It's to the detriment of the movies that were made, and it's the detriment of the audiences that would have enjoyed them."

Meslow said there were exceptions — most notably Jennifer Lopez, who starred in films like Maid In Manhattanand The Wedding Planner.

"She's a really fascinating example, because the simple answer is she just loved romantic comedies and really wanted to make them," Meslow said. "And no one was encouraging her to be making romantic comedies. She just wanted to."

But rom-coms have evolved

Meslow pointed to Crazy Rich Asiansas a sign the genre was changing and the industry was embracing more diversity from filmmakers to stars.

Crazy Rich Asians trailer

YouTube

"It is a very traditionally structured, crowd-pleasing rom-com," Meslow said. And the lead actor Henry Golding, "is as charming and dashing a male lead as you're going to find in Hollywood anywhere right now."

And then there are others, like Palm Springsand Happiest Seasonwhere the relationships feel more realistic, but still feed the hunger for a good rom-com.

Palm Springs trailer

YouTube

"[They are] subversive enough that they could have played with the form a little more when it came to the ending, there were legitimate reasons for the couples in both of those movies to not be together at the end of those movies, and in the end they both double down on the very traditional, 'and now it's true love' type of ending,' but I think audiences like it."

And audiences liking movies and paying to watch them means Hollywood will keep making them.

Jason Epstein, cofounder of 'The New York Review of Books' dies at 93 : NPR******

Publishing innovator Jason Epstein has died at 93

The Associated Press

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Jason Epstein, seen in 2001, co-founder of The New York Review of Books, has died at age 93. Jim Cooper/AP hide caption

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Jason Epstein, seen in 2001, co-founder of The New York Review of Books, has died at age 93.

Jim Cooper/AP

NEW YORK — Jason Epstein, a publishing innovator and bon vivant who helped put the classics in paperback, co-founded The New York Review of Booksand worked with such novelists as E.L. Doctorow, Vladimir Nabokov and Philip Roth, has died at age 93.

Epstein died Friday "surrounded by his books" at his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., said his wife, the author and former New York Timesjournalist Judith Miller. The cause was congestive heart failure, she said.

The book world has its share of accidental lifers and Epstein was one. Once a young bohemian who desired only enough money to have time for reading, he took a job at Doubleday in the early 1950s, joined Random House in 1958 and remained for decades as editorial director. He became one of the industry's most honored executives, receiving lifetime achievement awards from the National Book Foundation, presenters, of the National Book Award, in 1988; and from the National Book Critics Circle in 2002.

Epstein was not just a man of letters, but of food and drink, whose own books included the memoir Eating and whose dining companions ranged from Buster Keaton to Jacqueline Kennedy to the notorious attorney-political operative Roy Cohn. In Making It, a 1967 best-seller about the literary world, Norman Podhoretz wrote affectionately of Epstein's tastes for imported shoes, first-class travel and "appallingly expensive" restaurants.

"He was beautiful to watch," Podhoretz observed.

He was as well-read and as opinionated as the authors he worked with, "so damned intelligent," Mailer would joke, once telling The Associated Press that he had to adjust to an editor "who might be a lot brighter" then he was. Epstein published an early excerpt of Nabokov's Lolita and fought unsuccessfully to convince Doubleday to publish the scandalous novel about a professor's obsession with a 12-year old girl. Epstein also feuded bitterly with Gore Vidal and became a critic of the Library of America, believing that the imprint he helped establish had grown bloated. Random House co-founder Bennett Cerf would call him the "cross I bear," while Epstein labeled Cerf "the bear I cross."

Among the many books edited by Epstein: Doctorow's Depression-era novel Billy Bathgate, Jane Jacobs' classic of urban studies The Death and Life of Great American Citiesand Mailer's CIA epic Harlot's Ghost.

Epstein admittedly passed over the occasional best-seller, although he was proud of rejecting Shirley MacLaine's New Age favorite Out on a Limb.

"We were friends and she actually wrote much of that book at my house in Sag Harbor (on New York's Long Island). But she never told me what it was about," Epstein told the AP in 2000. "I read this and I said, 'Come on, Shirley, you're nuts.'"

The son of a successful textile salesman, Epstein grew up in Maine and Massachusetts, where he acquired his longtime passion for fine cuisine and spent so much time at the library that one librarian saved his card while he and his family spent a year in New York City. In the late 1940s, he entered Columbia University, when the school's president was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Epstein met the future U.S. president once, and, by accident, made a fine impression.

"I had spent the night downtown with a girl," Epstein told the AP. "I could hardly stand up. I had been up all night and he thought I was a bright young fellow, up bright and early. He was beaming, and he shook my hand."

In his early 20s, his quest for affordable classics inspired him to start one of publishing's first literary paperback imprints, Anchor Books, now part of Penguin Random House. He also helped launch two other major and lasting projects. One came in the early 1960s when a newspaper strike and the general tedium of literacy criticism led Epstein and his then-wife, Barbara, to help found The New York Review of Books, along with critic Elizabeth Hardwick and editor Robert Silvers among others. In the late 1970s, he was among the creators of the Library of America, which offers hardcover editions of the country's most influential writers.

He had two children with Barbara Epstein: daughter Helen Epstein, a contributor to The New York Review of Books; and son Jacob Epstein, a television writer whose time in the book world was brief and unfortunate. His novel The Wild Oatswas published in 1979 and was soon found to contain numerous similarities to Martin Amis' The Rachel Papers.

"Epstein wasn't influenced by 'The Rachel Papers,'" Amis wrote at the time, "he had it flattened out beside his typewriter."

Jason Epstein was the rare publishing veteran to show early and unforced enthusiasm for technology. He looked for ways to sell books online before the rise of e-books and Amazon.com and was a strong advocate for in-store machines that could print and bind works on demand. Epstein essentially advocated a system that enabled authors to bypass the industry that employed him, looking back to the days when Parson Weems could sell books about George Washington by simply sitting under a tree and hitting on a drum.

"Soon writers and readers will be able to meet again on a worldwide green where writers may once more beat their drums or hire a Weems to drum up business for them," Epstein wrote in Book Business, a memoir published in 2001. "On the World Wide Web, future storytellers and their readers can mingle at leisure and talk at length."

In 'Black Agenda,' thought leaders pose solutions to complicated issues : NPR******

In 'Black Agenda,' thought leaders pose solutions to complicated issues

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In 'Black Agenda,' thought leaders pose solutions to complicated issues

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Headshot of Anna Gifty Opoku-AgyemanKwame Abrah

NPR's Leila Fadel talks to Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman about an essay collection from Black experts that suggests solutions to issues that range from climate policy to criminal justice reform.

Black Agenda: A conversation with Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman

The Indicator from Planet Money

Black Agenda: A conversation with Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman

Influential fashion journalist André Leon Talley dies at 73 : NPR******

Influential fashion journalist André Leon Talley dies at 73

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In 2007, Voguemagazine editor at large André Leon Talley attends a post-Fashion Week panel discussion on the lack of Black images in the current fashion output in New York. Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large of Voguemagazine, has died. He was 73. Talley's literary agent confirmed Talley's death to USA Todaylate Tuesday. Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

toggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP

In 2007, Voguemagazine editor at large André Leon Talley attends a post-Fashion Week panel discussion on the lack of Black images in the current fashion output in New York. Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large of Voguemagazine, has died. He was 73. Talley's literary agent confirmed Talley's death to USA Todaylate Tuesday.

Mary Altaffer/AP

NEW YORK — André Leon Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large of Voguemagazine, has died. He was 73.

Talley's literary agent David Vigliano confirmed Talley's death to USA Todaylate Tuesday, but no additional details were immediately available.

Talley was an influential fashion journalist who worked at Women's Wear DailyandVogueand was a regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. At 6-feet-6 inches tall, Talley cut an imposing figure wherever he went, with his stature, his considerable influence on the fashion world, and his bold looks.

In a 2013 Vanity Fairspread titled "The Eyeful Tower," Talley was described as "perhaps the industry's most important link to the past." Designer Tom Ford told the magazine Talley was "one of the last great fashion editors who has an incredible sense of fashion history. ... He can see through everything you do to the original reference, predict what was on your inspiration board."

Designer Diane von Furstenberg praised Talley on Instagram, writing: "no one saw the world in a more glamorous way than you did ... no one was grander and more soulful than you were."

In his 2003 memoir, A.L.T.: A Memoir, Talley focused on two of the most important women in his life: his maternal grandmother, Bennie Frances Davis and the late fashion editor Diana Vreeland.

"Bennie Frances Davis may have looked like a typical, African American domestic worker to many of the people who saw her on an ordinary day, but I, who could see her soul, could also see her secret: that even while she wore a hair net and work clothes to scrub toilets and floors, she wore an invisible diadem," he wrote.

His relationship with Voguestarted at Duke University, where his grandmother cleaned dorms; Talley would walk to campus in his youth to read the magazine.

Talley was also a familiar figure to TV audiences, serving as a judge on America's Top Modeland appearing onSex and the CityandEmpire.

Raised in Durham, N.C., Talley worked assorted jobs before arriving in New York in the 1970s, soon meeting Vreeland striking up a friendship that lasted until her death in 1989.

Talley worked as a park ranger in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, where he told visitors about slaves who built Fort Washington and dressed up like a Civil War soldier, he told The Associated Press in 2003.

After stints with Interviewmagazine and Women's Wear Daily, Talley was hired at Voguein 1983 by Editor in Chief Anna Wintour and was appointed its creative director in 1988.

Talley released another memoir in 2020, The Chiffon Trenches, that included gossipy behind-the-scenes tales about Wintour and other fashion figures like the late designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Of all the elements of a person's apparel, Talley considered shoes to be most important.

"You can tell everything about a person by what he puts on his feet," Talley told the AP.

"If it's a man and you can see the reflection of his face on the top of his black shoes, it means they've been polished to perfection. ... If it's a woman and she's wearing shoes that hurt ... well, shoes that hurt are very fashionable!"

Talley's death was first reported by celebrity website TMZ.

'What Is Otherwise Infinite' by Bianca Stone searches for meaning through poetry : NPR******

'What Is Otherwise Infinite' asks for granular honesty in our search for meaning

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'What Is Otherwise Infinite' asks for granular honesty in our search for meaning

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the cover of What Is Otherwise InfiniteEnlarge this image Tin House Books the cover of What Is Otherwise InfiniteTin House Books

Isolated and fatigued by the pandemic over the last two years, existential questions have consumed many of our minds. What is the meaning of our lives? How should we be spending our time?

Poets are great at ruminating on these questions, and Bianca Stone is one of them.

"I think it's a human condition to search," the poet says. "With so much happening in the world right now that is unfamiliar and confusing, I think we're trying to figure out, 'what next?'"

Stone's fourth poetry collection, What Is Otherwise Infinite, delves deep into this internal search for meaning. And to know what we want from our lives, Stone says we need to get really, really honest with ourselves.

Two poets chronicle their friendship and isolation during the pandemic

Books

Two poets chronicle their friendship and isolation during the pandemic

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to move towards a better version of yourself," she says. "But I think that it can become very insidious and destructive if we don't look around at what's going on in our life and who we are."

Here's an excerpt from her poem "Routine" —

Some days I get up to go for a run 

but instead just sit in spandex 

and write poems about the fog.

Is the fog lifting or the trees rising? 

Who cares. Nature transfers her blood 

into the air. We are her lung cancer. 

Her trans fat. Her addiction.

Some days I get up to write 

but instead clean —the great lie 

that I am doing something.

portrait of Bianca StoneDaniel Schechner/Courtesy of Tin House Books

The poet calls this poem a direct response to the "obsessive hole" that one can get into when thinking about routines, habits and, as she says, "reaching your full potential."

"It can be kind of a form of masochism, trying so hard to fix yourself and to be this great ideal self," she says.

Stone's poems reframe the search for meaning by addressing the self-care and self-perfection complex. Because even though it's natural to want to "fix" our lives — sometimes obsessing over our lives can work against us.

"One thing I've learned [in writing this book] is that there's often several different selves in us, and they're incongruous and at odds," she says. "And accepting the different parts of ourselves is an incredible gift."

So — we may not know "what's next" but perhaps we know that we want to work as well as rest, or run as well as eat "dirty, dirty chocolate layer cake" (which is an image from one of her poems).

Of course, Stone acknowledges that reconciling these contradictions and being honest with ourselves can be really frightening.

"But the good thing is that once you are, you're free, and there is a kind of infinitude to that freedom," she says. "Where you're not beholden to societal expectations about how you should be spending your day."

  • poems
In 'Fight,' John Della Volpe looks at what shapes Gen Z politics : NPR******

A new look at how turmoil is defining the lives and politics of Generation Z

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A new look at how turmoil is defining the lives and politics of Generation Z

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Young people have been on the front lines of activist movements, including on the issue of climate change. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Young people have been on the front lines of activist movements, including on the issue of climate change.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Teens and young adults get a bad rap.

They're often called lazy and entitled, with a new generation seen as inextricably glued to their phones and TikTok. And when they speak up about issues, it can be met with an eye roll or a knowing sigh.

It's the one that suggests, "Maybe they will get how the world works when they're older."

But the veteran pollster John Della Volpesays that everything he was told — and that most people think — about Generation Z is wrong. Della Volpe is the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics and a former adviser to the Biden campaign, and he explores the evolution of Gen Z in his new book.

Fight: How Gen Z is channeling their fear and passion to save America,covers the coming of age of the 70 million young people in America born in a 20-year period beginning in the mid-1990s. Della Volpe examines the politicalawakening of this generation that has come largely during the Trump era, as well as what he describes as a "significant mental health crisis," intensified by the state of the country's politics.

Young Americans are raising alarms about the state of U.S. democracy in a new poll

Politics

Young Americans are raising alarms about the state of U.S. democracy in a new poll

The forward to Fightwas written by one of Gen Z's most visible activists, David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Hogg told NPR that older people often thank him for his generation "standing up," eager to pass the baton. But Hogg argued that lasting change requires more than the resolve of young people — it requires a coalition across generations.

Their conversation is below, edited for length and clarity.

Juana Summers: I want to just start here with the basics. You've been leading polling focusing on young people in the United States for more than two decades. What inspired you to write this book?

John Della Volpe: Frankly, I think that everything that I was told and everything that many people think about Gen Z was frankly, wrong. And I wanted to write this book to kind of correct those myths. I think every generation has had its share of angst and turmoil. I'm Gen X, but I don't think there is any generation in 75 years that has been confronted with more chaos, more quickly in their young lives than Gen Z or Zoomers. When we think about this, many of them were born right around 9/11, and it's always been kind of a shadow in their lives. Millions of their parents lost their homes due to the Great Recession. Entering school, they faced lockdown drills, things that my generation had never seen. And the idea of going to a place and being safe never really existed for young people. Just so much chaos, even before COVID-19 and the social isolation of the lockdown, all of this accelerated by social media. All of this happening before they were 25. So that's where they came of age. But rather than melting, it made them harder and made them tougher and made them more focused to do great things for themselves and for the country.

JS: David, in the forward to the book you offer up a rallying cry to other members of your generation What's your message to them?

David Hogg: While voting is important and it's obviously a very important thing for us to do, it can't be the only thing that we do because our generation is not going to wait for progress. As we've seen from all these movements, especially over the past four years, that young people have played a critical movement and from the March for our Lives, to calls for racial justice, to everything else. We have to vote, but we also have to remember that change has to be created inside and outside of politics, because real power in politics isn't just generated with a vote. It's generating an issue and a cultural shift around young people and how we perceive the world that we live in and the world that we want to leave behind.

Enlarge this image

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student David Hogg addresses the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Washington for the anti-gun violence rally organized by survivors of the shooting at Hogg's school on Feb. 14, 2018, that left 17 dead. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student David Hogg addresses the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Washington for the anti-gun violence rally organized by survivors of the shooting at Hogg's school on Feb. 14, 2018, that left 17 dead.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

JS: John, this book draws from your years of work as a pollster, but also from focus groups you conducted. I want to ask you about a moment from a focus group that you say really stuck with you. You asked what older generations do not understand about Generation Z, and you quote a participant named Grace:

"An older generation would not understand waking up in a classroom and thinking about how easy it would be for someone to shoot it up. The same daily weight on an adult's shoulders over bills or taxes is what children feel about living or dying."

John, what stuck out about that to you?

JDV:I've been asking that question for 20 years. And what I used to hear when I would ask that question is optimism, and opportunity, even in some of the poorest communities across the country, some of the most challenging circumstances. I used to hear young people talk about kind of connection and opportunity is there in America, if you were to work for it. And now what I heard was that [they] don't have the luxury of even thinking about that. Young people were challenged with just the daily weight of living and dying. Grace wasn't the only one — every single hand in that group went up and was nodding their heads. We talked about this on the outset. There was just no place that was safe.

JS: David, I want to ask you the same question that John asked Grace. What don't older generations understand about your generation?

DH: John brings up a good point around the fear and anxiety aspect that Gen Z faces. And I think that the anxiety that comes from gun violence, from climate change to all these other things is something that a lot of generations right now just can't understand, the scale of the existential threat that young people today feel. What I will say, though, is that as we've seen in times before, when generations faced challenges, they come to meet them. Oftentimes, you know, movements find their leaders. I think we saw that in 2020.

JS: Gen Z is a generation that came of age with the hold that former President Trump had on politics and culture. John, how has that shaped them?

JDV: Every generation determines their political values in their teenage years, in their early 20s, and so much of that is shaped by the president that is serving during that period of their lives. While [Gen Z] were looking for an opportunity to unite us, they saw a president and administration more bent on dividing young people.

1A

After The Riot: Young Voters On The State Of Our Democracy

From the earliest days of the Harvard research, we found that the biggest predictor of whether or not a young person participates in politics or votes is whether they can see a tangible difference in their vote. And that first hundred days, those first six months, those first eight or nine months leading up to Charlottesville were everything that young people need to see about the tangible difference that Donald Trump was making. And obviously in a way that did not comport at all kind of with their values. And it's something that I think was a real sense of ignition to what we saw as a tremendous level of political participation in 2017, 2018, 2019 and obviously 2020.

JS: David, you are a part of that generation and movement that came of age during the Trump presidency.

DH: Even with a president that was a Republican — which most members of Gen Z tend to lean more progressive — even despite that, we hoped that we would be united somewhat in the early days. By the time Charlottesville rolled around and all these other things started happening, it was so abundantly clear to many of us that that wasn't going to happen. Our generation stepped up and decided to unite ourselves.

What I fear at this point, though, is the mental health crisis that Gen Z is facing right now and the burnout and exhaustion that I know so many of us feel, myself included. That despite us turning out at record numbers in 2018 and 2020, that our vote doesn't seem to have made that tangible of a difference. If we can't see that our vote makes a difference... what I fear is that some younger people are going to look at the events of January 6th and see that as the alternative, that it's OK if you don't get what you want in politics to go out and attempt to overthrow the government.

JS: John, what do you have to say to that?

JDV: One of the dangers, as David said it's kind of connected to this, is the sense of alienation that so many young people face. In recent [Institute of Politics] polling released at the end of last year, we have a majority of young people, which is tens of millions of people, saying that over the last couple of weeks they at more than several times felt anxious, hopeless, depressed, isolated, et cetera. And you have 25% indicating thoughts of self-harm.

It's just a just a significant, significant crisis. When folks are so depressed and so isolated and they withdraw, one of the concerns I have for them is to withdraw, spend more time online where they could potentially be more easily recruited into places where they don't necessarily even agree with the ideology, but are looking for some sort of community and then perhaps find themselves in a situation that's difficult to get out of. Whether it's alt right groups or some of the folks like David talked about who participated in the Jan. 6 riot and insurrection, you know, hate groups, etc. That's my concern. We have so many young people, especially young men, who are vulnerable right now.

Snapchat is adding a feature to help young users run for political office

Politics

Snapchat is adding a feature to help young users run for political office

JS: In the book, John cites demographers who estimate that by 2028 Generation Z and their immediate elders — millennials — will make up half of the electorate. What does that tell you about the future?

JDV: We think so much about this country being divided, and clearly it is. But it's really divided by age. We look at Gen Z and millennials — two-thirds of them support candidates who are Democrats, not Republicans. And once you get to Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, it's a different scenario. As younger people age, as younger people begin to make voting a more regular habit, there is no question that they will be voting for the values that they've been developing over the last couple of years: concern about the way in which capitalism is practiced, concern about our climate, concern about racial justice. These are the issues that will be driving young people to the polls. They've made a greater impact on these issues than many people may already appreciate, and that those Democrats, as well as Republicans who don't take them seriously today, will underestimate them at their peril.

JS: David, what do we need to understand about Gen Z as we look to the future?

DH: I often hear older people come up to me and say, "I'm so thankful that your generation is standing up, and we can finally kind of pass the baton off to you." It can't be that way. It can't. It's going to take every generation working together in order to fix these things. If our older generations or our country is simply putting it on younger people to fix these things, they're never going to get fixed. Because as powerful as we are, it has to be an inter-generational coalition of people that work hand in hand, and don't patronize or talk down to young people, but lead with young people and our vision and ideas for the future.

Gabriela Garcia centers women in a patriarchal society : NPR's Book of the Day : NPR******

In 'Of Women And Salt,' women weave the future out of scraps

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"We are force." This line is originally from a Victor Hugo letter to Cuban independence fighters, but it's also found throughout Gabriela Garcia's novel, Of Women And Salt. The book, new in paperback, is about generations of Cuban and Salvadoran women navigating patriarchal societies. She told NPR's Sarah McCammon that she was especially inspired by this phrase because she "was thinking about all of the multitudes within women - how they're more than just immigrants or mothers or any of these other labels that are sort of imposed on them."

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Carl Bernstein's new memoir honors the 'glorious chaos' of the newsroom : NPR******

Carl Bernstein's new memoir honors the 'glorious chaos' of the newsroom

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Carl Bernstein's new memoir honors the 'glorious chaos' of the newsroom

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Carl Bernstein has written a colorful memoir, and it's not about Deep Throat, Richard Nixon, Watergate, or Supreme Court justices, but the kinds of people who used to be called "ink-strained wretches": Newspaper people. From the times he was 16, he worked as a copy-kid on the old Washington Star, where he fell in love — I think that's the word to use — with what he call the "glorious chaos" and "purposeful commotion" of the newsroom.

Gunnhild Øyehaug's 'Present Tense Machine' a mistake separates mother from child : NPR******

In 'Present Tense Machine,' the allegory of The Fall becomes a linguistic accident

Thúy Đinh

Present Tense Machine: A Novel,by Gunnhild Øyehaug Farrar, Straus and Giroux hide caption

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At the start of Gunnhild Øyehaug's Present Tense Machine, a mother misreads the word trädgård— Norwegian for garden — as tärdgård, a nonsensical word, as her young daughter plays nearby. The mistake triggers the expulsion of the child from her life.

Thus the allegory of The Fall becomes a linguistic accident, rather than a hubristic quest for knowledge. From this irrevocable error, the mother's world is spliced into two parallel universes — rendering her invisible and forgotten to her daughter and vice-versa.

Anna and Laura, mother and daughter respectively — exiled from each other but continuing to exist as thinkers and artists in their respective worlds — each often feel an absence akin to a vague but persistent unmooring. Anna, a novelist, worries whether her writing career and teenage children — born long after her accidental cosmic split from her first child Laura — can thrive without her vigilance. Laura, a literary scholar heavily pregnant with her first child, tries to ward off dangers both in her home environment and inside her own mind. Motherhood and each woman's creative identity represent the novel's central duality: To be a biological mother is to be bound by time, physically and psychically divided by gestation and birth, yet to be a creator is to assume an eternal, genderless, and indivisible presence.

The notion of parallel worlds brought into existence by error is based on the Bible story of the Tower of Babel in which God, offended by mankind's desire to build a tall structure to challenge his authority, introduced languages into their midst as a dividing tactic. But by synthesizing the sci-fi trope of parallel universes with stories from Genesis, as well as Greek mythology (i.e., Orpheus and Eurydice, Demeter and Persephone), Present Tense Machine— seamlessly translated by Kari Dickson — assumes varied yet unifying forms: as a gestational fable with a beginning, and middle, but no end; a metaphysical poem on infinite loop; a refutation and affirmation of mortality; and a lyrical essay on the gaps between an original text and its translation. Ultimately, as an ingeniously constructed "machine," Øyehaug's novel evokes a cosmos that can simultaneously expand and compress.

Aside from Anna and Laura, who unknowingly mirror each other in the book's halved universes, Øyehaug also intrudes from time to time as a bodiless "voice," complaining about her wet boots, the bad Nordic weather, and the lack of writing paper that keeps her from ending the novel. This authorial intrusion, in highlighting Øyehaug's various discomforts as she depicts two fictional women struggling to overcome their existential angst, is meta, comical, ironic: The novelist, while playing a transcendent God, seems as flawed and life-like as her characters.

In some way, the idea of linguistic error or wordplay as shaping a person's trajectory seems literally more human(e), even serendipitous, than the classical notion of tragedy, where individuals are inexorably destroyed by the gods. When Anna's misreading separates her from Laura, other social dynamics gracefully realign to mitigate her loss. For example, immediately after the schism, in the first universe, Bård, Anna's first husband, confesses to her he has fallen in love with Sara, a colleague. His revelation nevertheless seems anticlimactic, even soothing, as Anna is convinced she has lost something far more visceral that she can't recall. In the second universe, Laura, growing up with no memory of Anna, has Sara, Bård's wife, for a doting mother "who [cannot] remember not having met Laura before."

Laura, like her forgotten mother, misreads words. In a sequence that mirrors Anna's misreading of trädgård into tärdgård, Laura reads the painted sign on a street sweeper as "Presens Maskin," or Present Tense Machine, while it actually says, rather boringly, "Presis Maskin" — Precise Machine.

Also, in an example of life imitating art, translator Kari Dickson, when asked about errors in translation, responded that once, in translating a Norwegian crime novel, she nearly turned rømlingene(fugitives) into romlingene(rumblings), while describing a snowmobile chase over an icy landscape.

Thus mistakes, omissions, accidents — rather than perfection — create new understandings, deepening one's awareness that art, built upon the instability of language and the diversity of human experience, can be as mutable as life. Anna and Laura, like Øyehaug, cannot resist their irrepressible yet mundane existences, which remind them of Erik Satie's Vexations— a short, idiosyncratic piano piece that must be repeated 840 times as a relay performance:

"There is always a tone that slips out of line, it's like hearing what it sounds like to get something wrong, what it's like to stumble all the time, what it's like constantly to be trying to get something on track, only the track keeps moving ... [something like] an enormous, yet at the same time very small irritation, beautiful because it is incomprehensible, and therefore all the more irritating."

But it's no accident that Anna and Laura simultaneously play Satie's piece in their respective universes, on June 16, 2019 — Bloomsday. As a structural, linguistic, and aural pun, Øyehaug's symbolic attempt to reunite Anna with Laura also merges Aristotle's classical concept of narrative unity with Satie's – and with James Joyce's modernist notion of holistic, yet fragmentary present.

Thúy Đinh is a freelance critic and literary translator. Her work can be found at thuydinhwriter.com. She tweets @ThuyTBDinh.

Gwen E. Kirby's new collection of short stories 'Shit Cassandra Saw' is stunning : NPR******

Gwen E. Kirby's stunning collection of short stories takes readers on a wild ride

Michael Schaub

Shit Cassandra Saw, by Gwen E. KirbyEnlarge this image Penguin Books Shit Cassandra Saw, by Gwen E. KirbyPenguin Books

"I wonder why I'm risking so much just to have another person to apologize to," reflects the narrator of "Here Preached His Last"-- one of the stories in Gwen E. Kirby's new short story collection, Shit Cassandra Saw.

The woman is having an affair with a colleague; while she senses it might end badly, she can't bring herself to feel sorry for her infidelity: "I don't regret cheating on my husband, even now ... I regret that it took me this long to learn to use my body for its own sake, to let my only emotion during sex to be lust, be greed."

It's a remarkable story, and not just because one of the supporting characters is the ghost of an 18th-century preacher who appears to the woman to shame her, calling her a "whore" on a regular basis. Kirby has a gift for writing about characters in sometimes extraordinary circumstances with a mostly straight face, revealing truths that cast a bright light on women trying to make their way in an endlessly hostile society.

That's the case with the collection's second story, "A Few Normal Things That Happen a Lot," which opens with a man telling a woman passing by him on the street to smile. It's the kind of interaction women are subjected to every day by creepy randos, often accompanied by leering comments ("You'd be so much prettier...").

The woman in Kirby's story, though, doesn't ignore the man or roll her eyes. She actually does smile, displaying a fanged mouth, then "bites off the man's hand, cracks the bones and spits them out, and accidentally swallows his wedding ring, which gives her indigestion." (The wedding ring is a nice touch.) The story is inhabited by other women with superpowers they use to deal with hostile men — one has a remote control that can switch men off; another can morph into a werewolf. It's a smart, funny story that puts a fascinating spin on the aggressions — both micro- and macro- — that women endure all too frequently.

While Kirby has a clear predilection for the bizarre, she plays some of her stories straight, and those are just as entertaining as the fantastical ones. "Casper" follows three girls who work at the Unclaimed Baggage Depot, "Greenleaf, Alabama's, second-best and only other unclaimed baggage store." It's a fairly miserable job, with the only benefit being the chance to root through suitcases, sometimes discovering little, abandoned treasures. It's generally never anything too exciting, but that changes when one of the girls makes a special find: "It was a taxidermied albino wallaby and it was the greatest thing to ever happen to the Depot, until it was the end of everything."

At this point in the book, Kirby has taken her readers on more than a few wild rides, so this feels like a setup for another trip into the weird zone. But the story plays out in a straightforward manner, with Kirby delving into the psyches of the teenage girls as they navigate their post-adolescence; it's a gorgeous story that treats its characters with real humanity that finds them — as conflicted and imperfect as they are — enough.

The collection ends with the chilling "We Handle It," which tells the story of a group of girls at a summer music camp in Tennessee. While swimming in a reservoir one day, they notice a middle-aged man watching them: "He regards us from the shore in that way we are learning to expect from a certain kind of man."

The girls spread the word to their camp mates about the man, casting him as a pathetic creep; they "laugh until we feel almost sorry for him." After another encounter with the man, the girls contemplate telling a camp counselor or the police, but conclude nothing would come of it. In the story's last pages, the tense shifts from present to future, casting doubt on the shocking ending — it's another story that proves Kirby has mastered the art of short fiction, and it's a fitting conclusion to her remarkable collection.

Kirby's book succeeds not just because she's a preternaturally gifted prose stylist, but because of her willingness to take risks. She experiments with points of view and occasionally dips into metafiction ("Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories" is a master class in storytelling, as well as a hilarious commentary on a fiction scene that's seen men overrepresented for decades.) And yet she also knows when to tap the brakes, when to step back and let her carefully drawn characters speak for themselves. It's a stunning collection from a writer whose talent and creativity seem boundless.

Hanya Yanagihara's 'Tp Paradise' packs a lot into a single novel : NPR******

'To Paradise' packs a staggering amount into its alternate histories

Gabino Iglesias

To Paradise, by Hanya YaragiharaEnlarge this image Doubleday To Paradise, by Hanya YaragiharaDoubleday

Hanya Yanagihara's To Paradisedefies categorization.

At once a novel that reimagines the world three times and a collection of barely interconnected novels about different people in some of the same places, the book deals with themes like LGBTQ+ relationships in different times and contexts, racism, pandemics, loss, unrequited love, and family.

However, these things are all wrapped in 720 pages of small details, loose ends, and narratives within narratives that ultimately make the novel feel like a bit too much.

To Paradisecontains three novels. The first one takes place in 1893 in an alternate America and follows David, a rich young man from a well-known family who lives in the shadow of his grandfather while dreaming of finding freedom and making his own path in life. He struggles with a prearranged marriage and instead falls in love with a mysterious piano player who lives in a dilapidated apartment — and may or may not be planning to steal his fortune. The second novel takes place in Manhattan in 1993, where a young paralegal tries to hide his past from his much older and very wealthy partner as the AIDS pandemic rages on. The last novel — a somewhat dystopian narrative where there is a totalitarian government and the world is in shambles due to various plagues — takes place at various times between 2088 and 2094, also in New York, and follows the granddaughter of a scientist as she learns to cope with the loss of her grandfather and tries to get to the bottom of her husband's disappearance.

There are a plethora of topics Yanagihara circles back to a few times in these three narratives. Unrequited love, insecurity, relationship drama, secret pasts, and identity are a few of them. She also revisits places like Washington Square and some Manhattan streets. Along with the topics mentioned above, these places and some of the names she uses time and again give To Paradisea hint of cohesion. The most prominent of these elements, however, is LGBTQ+ relationships. Especially in the first two stories, gay marriage is mostly accepted, but there are places in which it's frowned upon or even punished.

Similarly, there are various instances in which racism shows up and it's shown as something vile, but Yanagihara never delves deep into it and the critiques are superficial. For example, there's a passage in the second narrative in which a homeless man screams a series of racial and anti-LGBTQ+ slurs at the protagonist, but it's not followed by an exploration of his feelings about it.

Despite the elements of cohesion mentioned above, To Paradiseis a disjointed read in which narrative threads are dropped never to be retaken again. For example, in the first story there are many pages dedicated to the death of a young boy and how the tragedy affected the man David is supposed to marry. Then, that story stops and we never learn any more about the boy's family or the aftermath of his death. Also, the language used in this first story, which sets the tone for the rest of the book, is confusing as it goes from sounding modern and using "twenty-nine years" to using "nine-and-twenty years" and words like "flibbertigibbet." There are echoes that reverberate in each book, places and situations that tempt readers to try to connect the dots and find some overarching idea enveloping the three stories, but that exercise will only lead to frustration because there will be many more questions than answers.

To Paradiseoperates on two levels, and they share equal weight. On one hand, the book offers a series of alternate histories in which some of the problems we face today show up, and characters struggle to find their true selves. In fact, the pandemics that appear in the novel make this one of the first big pandemic novels, although the pandemics and illnesses themselves don't play a major role in the novel. On the other hand, there is too much going on but enough of it is explored deeply. This is a story about love versus wealth, but also about inner demons, troubled pasts, heartbreak, racism, and too many other things to name.

To Paradisepacks a staggering amount of characters, events, letters, and narratives within narratives that never coalesce into something that feels like more than the sum of its parts. However, it also features interesting ideas, like the fact that sex between partners before marriage is "encouraged" or that things like anxiety and uncertainty timeless elements of human nature. Yanagihara crammed three centuries of imagination into this novel, and that is undoubtedly an achievement. She also managed to put human emotions at the center of every narrative, and that grants To Paradiseemotional resonance. However, the onslaught of details and stories ultimately muddle the narrative in a way that injects a healthy dose of bewilderment and frustration into what could have been an outstanding reading experience.

Gabino Iglesias is an author, book reviewer and professor living in Austin, Texas. Find him on Twitter at@Gabino_Iglesias.

James Goodwin teaches us how to boost brain health : NPR's Book of the Day : NPR******

Get the most out of that noggin with 'Supercharge Your Brain'

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Get the most out of that noggin with 'Supercharge Your Brain'

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Author James Goodwin has written about brain trauma, which, as you can guess, is something you want to avoid at all costs. His new book, Supercharge Your Brain: How to Maintain a Healthy Brain Throughout Your Life, looks at both the effects of brain damage and how you can boost your brain's health. He told Morning Edition's A Martinez that keeping your brain in good working condition is easier than you might think.

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Writer Kathryn Schulz's 'Lost & Found' is a tale of loss and discovery : NPR******

A grief story and a love story form the backbone of 'Lost & Found'

Kristen Martin

Lost & Found: A Memoir, by Kathryn SchultzEnlarge this image Random House Lost & Found: A Memoir, by Kathryn SchultzRandom House

The grief story and love story that form the backbone of New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz's memoir Lost & Foundare, in themselves, not extraordinary.

We begin with the death of her father Isaac in September 2016 — "not a tragedy," as he died after a long history of illness, "peacefully, at seventy-four." Schulz was in her 40s when her father died, a very average time at which to experience such a loss. As the memoir progresses, she writes of meeting and falling in love with the woman she would marry — the writer Casey Cep (here called "C.") — 18 months before her father's death. That they met was not unusual; they had been introduced by a mutual friend and both wrote for the same magazine. Nor is it odd that Schulz experienced both grief and love at the same time (more on that later).

But Lost & Found is as much a philosophical reckoning with the experiences of losing and finding as it is a record of Schulz's personal grief and love stories. It is that philosophical turning over of loss and discovery that makes this memoir extraordinary, for it unlocks existential meaning out of the utterly mundane facts of human life.

Schulz structures her exploration in three movements titled "Lost," "Found," and "And," which are anchored respectively in losing her father, finding love, and joining lives with C. in marriage. From the very beginning, though, we quickly move past the particulars of what happened to Schulz, and into an exploding outward of what it means to lose, to find, to connect and continue. On the second page, Schulz is already plumbing the etymology of loss, considering why we turn to it to describe the death of a loved one:

"The verb 'to lose' has its taproot sunk in sorrow; it is related to the 'lorn' in 'forlorn.' It comes from an Old English word meaning to perish, which comes from an even older word meaning to separate or cut apart...The circle of what we can lose...began with our own lives and each other and has been steadily expanding ever since."

That Schulz can make a visit to the Oxford English Dictionary this compelling — surprising yet apt — is a testament to her capabilities as a prose stylist.

Readers of Schulz's remarkable February 2017 New Yorker essay "Losing Streak" will remember this passage, because Lost & Found completes the exploration that piece began. Both the first section of the memoir and "Losing Streak" trace how the person Schulz lost — her father — was also a consummate loser of things. "He had a prodigious memory, a panoptic curiosity, and an ability, in the fact of problems of all kinds, to distinguish what was irrelevant from what mattered as swiftly as a coin machine separates pennies from quarters," Schulz writes in Lost & Found. "What he did not have, nine times out of ten, was his wallet." These passages, where we learn about the person Isaac was — a lawyer, a refugee, a devotee of the Detroit Tigers, a man who "had something urgent to say about almost everything" — are rendered lovingly, making us miss him too.

What makes the first section of this memoir piercing, though — where it improves on "Losing Streak" — is that beyond an affecting portrait of singular mourning, Schulz unravels universal truths about why loss guts us, and how it forces us to grapple with our place in the world and its workings. When we cannot locate what we have lost — whether it be a sweater in a small apartment, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean, or a dead loved one on this plane of existence — we often react with "a powerful feeling of disbelief" because it seems that "the world is not obeying its customary rules." Surely it cannot be possible that these losses are irretrievable. In fact, Schulz reminds us, the rules of our world dictate that we will lose our belongings and lose our lives:

"To lose something...forces us to confront the limits of existence: the fact that, sooner or later, it is in the nature of almost everything to vanish or perish. Over and over, loss calls us to reckon with this universal impermanence — with the baffling, maddening, heartbreaking fact that something that was just here can be, all of a sudden, gone."

Here, Schulz forces us to sit with that which we ignore in our quotidian lives, so that we may go on living them — the impermanence of everything we love. The death of someone you've shared your life with is paralyzing, because it plunges you into stark awareness of that impermanence. And yet if we want to keep living, we must make peace with the knowledge that nothing in this world is forever. It is this conundrum that Schulz disentangles in the book's last section, "And."

Before we get there, though, we spend about a hundred pages in the rapture of discovering love — pages that pay tribute to the astonishment of finding anything "in a stochastic world." It is very difficult to write about contentment and not come off smug, which Schulz acknowledges when she considers how in most love stories, "'happily ever after' is the ending, not the story." In "Found," she rises to this challenge in rendering the happiness of her life with C. with texture that brings to life how "finding makes [the world] richer, more abundant, more interesting." As Schulz describes time spent outdoors with C., her raptness to the natural world recalls the New Yorker feature on earthquakes for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, though here tinged with awe, not alarm.

Occasionally, all that awe grows tiresome, as when Schulz belabors her wonderment over the odds of chancing upon her partner. It did not strike me as "unlikely that [they] had ever met" simply because C. was raised Lutheran on Maryland's Eastern Shore and Schulz Jewish in Shaker Heights, Ohio. What makes "Found" ultimately work is, again, its philosophical turns, calling in everyone from Socrates to Dante to Jason and the Argonauts to William James to define how we recover and discover.

William James comes back in "And," and it is he who Schulz invokes to synthesize "Lost" and "Found" into Lost & Found. In The Principles of Psychology, James writes, "We ought to say a feeling of and...quite as readily as we say a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold." We live our lives in that feeling of and, in simultaneity, in juxtaposition, in continuity. We are in grief and we are in love at the same time. Schulz lost "life as it looked filtered through" her father, and found life filtered through her wife. Both experiences together taught her about the vastness of the world and our minute time on it. "It is easy to feel small and powerless," Schulz writes, "easy, too, to feel amazed and fortunate to be here." Lost & Found is a prod toward amazement, a call to remember that "we are here to keep watch, not to keep."

Kristen Martin's writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, The Baffler,and elsewhere. She tweets at @kwistent.

Book review: Carl Bernstein revisits his early career in 'Chasing History' : NPR******

Legendary reporter Carl Bernstein revisits his early career in 'Chasing History'

Michael Schaub

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Carl Bernstein, shown at a screening of Everything Is Copyin New York in 2016, has a new book out. This one's his memoir, Chasing History. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP hide caption

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Carl Bernstein, shown at a screening of Everything Is Copyin New York in 2016, has a new book out. This one's his memoir, Chasing History.

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

With the nation hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic and still riven by intractable political divisions, there's never been a more tempting — or more dangerous — time to indulge in nostalgia. Compared to the horrors of the past few years, it's natural to see everything that came before in sepia tones: simpler times when common decency reigned.

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Chasing History,by Carl Bernstein

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But nostalgia lies and distorts, of course, and journalists, in particular, are routinely warned to steer clear of it. (To be sure, that doesn't mean we always follow that advice.) It would have been easy for the legendary reporter Carl Bernstein to fall into the nostalgia trap with his new book, the memoir Chasing History, which chronicles his earliest years in the newspaper business. Happily, he doesn't. While it's a mostly fond look at the past, he deftly avoids all the "things sure were better back then" pitfalls.

Bernstein's memoir starts with his hiring as a copyboy — an errand runner, essentially — at one of his hometown newspapers, the now-defunct Evening Star of Washington, D.C. His father arranged an interview for his high school student son at the paper: "He rightly feared for my future — a concern that was based on hard facts, most of them having to do with the pool hall, my school report cards, and the Montgomery County Juvenile Court."

Copyboy isn't (well, wasn't — the job doesn't really exist anymore) a glamorous position, but Bernstein was hooked from the moment he set foot in the newsroom. "In my whole life I had never heard such glorious chaos or seen such purposeful commotion as I now beheld in that newsroom," he writes. "By the time I had walked from one end to the other, I knew that I wanted to be a newspaperman."

Bernstein allows that his talents, up to that point, seemed to be limited to pinball and getting into minor-ish trouble with school authorities and law enforcement agencies, but he thrived at the Starand was given the opportunity to assist reporters covering some of the era's hottest stories, including President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration. (This was good news for his nascent journalism career, but not so much for his academic one: "Now that I had covered the inauguration of the president of the United States, Mr. Adelman's chemistry class interested me even less," he allows, wryly.)

Scholastic woes aside, he rose up the Star's ladder with impressive speed, earning a promotion to dictationist, and then, at the age of 19, to city desk clerk. He was given the opportunity to write obituaries and even co-wrote a fake one, which he and two of his co-workers phoned in to The Washington Post, the Star's archrival publication (much to the consternation of his editor, Sid Epstein, who was unamused by the prank).

Bernstein's memoir ends with his departure from the Star, occasioned by his realization that without a college degree, he'd never be hired as a reporter for the paper. "I loved the Star, but it did not quite love me back," he reflects. Of course, he ended up fine — not long after he left, he was hired at The Washington Post, where he would go on to become one of the nation's most famous reporters thanks to his work with Bob Woodward uncovering the Watergate scandal.

Bernstein doesn't mention his later fame in Chasing History— this is a memoir limited to a set period of time, and he resists the urge to look forward. This gives the book its strength: It's not self-aggrandizing; it's content to be what it is, the story of a few years in the life of a young man getting his foothold in journalism. The book is marked by an appealing humility; while others might regard Bernstein as a living legend, his own opinion of himself seems much more measured. (Although you sense he's still proud of every "Good job, kid" he got from an editor during his stint as a teenage reporter.)

Bernstein wisely declines to turn the book into a compendium of advice for young reporters; he doesn't offer himself as a role model (or, for that matter, as a cautionary tale). The closest he comes is an observation he made as a cub reporter considering his senior colleagues: "[T]hey didn't get fooled by conventional wisdom. I knew enough from talking to them — and from my own limited experience — that they were constantly surprised by where the facts took them. After doing the reporting, rarely did a story fit with their first assumptions of where it would lead."

And then there's the nostalgia — or lack thereof. Bernstein declines to portray the past as a journalistic utopia; he notes the various bigotries that permeated both the industry and the nation as a whole (and, unfortunately, still do). Reporters who came of age in the 1960s could be forgiven for rolling their eyes at journalism's late turn to clickbait; Bernstein, though, is more concerned with leaving a portrait of his experience in mid-century America than with delivering a lecture.

That's what makes Chasing History such an enjoyable book. It doesn't try to be anything more than it is: a story of one young man's early career in an era that many Americans will find unrecognizable. "I'd gotten it into my head that all good reporting was pretty much the same thing: the best version of the truth you could come up with," Bernstein writes. And that's exactly what this memoir is.