Saturday, December 05, 2009
Considering who his father is, you might think Jason Reitman left the womb grasping a sound boom in his tiny hand. Jason was still a toddler when dad Ivan Reitman was making Animal House (1978) and other classic comedies like Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981). By the time Reitman hit his stride with Ghostbusters in 1984 the path to the director’s chair for young Jason might have seemed inevitable.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Twenty years ago today, at a press conference aboard the Russian cruise ship Maxim Gorky, the end of the Cold War was officially declared. And yet the fear accompanying nuclear weaponry remains, as evidenced by President Obama's explanation of the stakes in Afghanistan on Tuesday night: “We know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.”
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
In this month’s Vanity Fair, contributing editor Jim Windolf tries to analyze the wave of cute overtaking our culture. From Hello Kitty to the laughing baby (you know which baby) (yes you do) (you don’t? Really?), Windolf leaves no fuzzy, big-eyed stone unturned. And he thinks it’s getting worse. Why now?
Monday, November 30, 2009
It may surprise some people that movie star Willem Dafoe (Spiderman, The English Patient, Platoon) has roots deep in the stages of experimental theater. Dafoe was a founding member of The Wooster Group in New York, along with director Elizabeth LeCompte and Spalding Gray. Recently, I was lucky enough to catch him back in his old stomping grounds in Richard Foreman's 'Idiot Savant' at the Public Theater.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Graphic nonfiction achieves a new level of elegance in a very rarefied subject: the career of Bertrand Russell – mathematician, philosopher, and educator -- and his search for the logical foundation of mathematics. Against the backdrop of two world wars, Russell tries to argue for humans to base their behavior on reason; but the cruelty of his fellow logicians gives the book its skeptical edge.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Here's a Black Friday deal that the big-box retailers can't beat. Buy the new album from the up-and-coming indie band Ezra Furman and the Harpoons and you'll get a personalized song thrown in, for no extra charge. Just send them a letter with your life story (or a condensed version, perhaps), and they’ll churn out a folk-rock ditty with your name on it.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The hottest music out of Brazil at the moment might actually be from Minnesota. On Rádio do Canibal, Twin City beat-makers BK-One and Benzilla have crafted one of the most musical hip-hop records of the year. As the title indicates, the American DJs cannibalized a slew of records gathered on a recent trip to Brazil. Dirty salsa beats mix with Tropicália melodies in a seamless 19-track excursion from the City of God to the beaches of Ipanema. It helps that the roster of guest hip-hop talent includes such stellar wordsmiths as Black Thought, Murs, and Raekwon.
Monday, November 23, 2009
British poet Ruth Padel shares Charles Darwin's DNA -- she's his great-great granddaughter. Inspired by the life of her (relatively) early relative, this descendant of the Descent of Man author pays tribute to her forefather in verse to commemorate the 150th anniversary of On The Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Last Wednesday, the artist Jeanne-Claude, wife and creative partner of the artist Christo, passed away. New Yorkers remember Jeanne-Claude and Christo's ambitious 2005 piece, The Gates, a sweeping installation with 23 miles of saffron fabric fluttering throughout Central Park.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
It's almost exactly 150 years since On the Origin of Species was published, so for this week's show we decided to put evolution to the test. We learned a lot of cool facts in producing this hour: did you know the human species was nearly extinct -- dwindling to just 2,000 people -- 70,000 years ago? And if you ever worried about genetic engineering going awry, don't miss the amazing sci-fi short story we commissioned from writer Lydia Millet.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Kids never do as they’re told. The lauded novelist Vladimir Nabokov asked that his unfinished manuscript The Original of Laura be burned upon his death. But lucky for us, his son Dmitri didn’t listen. This week marks Laura’s inflammatory publication, which means that fans of Nabokov's will now have to decide whether to respect the master's wishes or run to the nearest bookstore to crack open the spine of this much-anticipated book and bite into some forbidden fruit.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Playlist anxiety this party season? It's The Very Best to the rescue. Fronted by a Malawian Esau Mwamwaya, the band made mixtape history last year with its killer remixes of M.I.A's 'Paper Planes' and Vampire Weekend's 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.' Even without those tunes, the album offers dizzying layers of Afropop and sunny vocals in English and Chichewa over techno dance beats. The title track is a party-starter with its happy mix of textures: a deep heartbeat of a bass line, cowbell, choir-style back-up vocals, and toe-tapping guitar riffs. It just might move you to book a flight to Lilongwe, which is appropriate, because it turns out Warm Heart of Africa is Malawi's tourism slogan too.
Friday, November 13, 2009
This week Kurt talks with the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who's made a career of films about passionate, quirky women: 'Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,' 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!,' 'Volver,' among many others. Almodóvar's new movie, 'Broken Embraces,' opens this weekend. Like his other films, it draws from a rich, quintessentially Spanish palette, filled with the vibrant streets, landscapes, and colors of Almodóvar's home country.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Last week, Irish playwright Enda Walsh's The New Electric Ballroom opened to rave reviews at St. Ann's Warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn. I fell in love with Walsh's work reading his first play, Disco Pigs, while living in Cork City, Ireland. Walsh isn't just a playwright, but a wordsmith in the truest sense; he blasts language to pieces and then re-invents it. In Disco Pigs, Walsh synthesized Cork slang and poetic puns into a new language for two wild best friends, Pig and Runt, creating 'a whirl dat no one can live sept us two.'
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
If you don't know anyone who's served in the military, Veteran's Day is a holiday that's easy to disregard; even if you have the day off, for the most part, business continues as usual. We decided instead to take a moment to look back at some of the stories we've aired on Studio 360 that came from soldiers themselves. Below, a sampling of our favorites. Listening to these voices could be a nice way to pay tribute, and, maybe, help us get to know some vets a little bit better.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I was lucky enough to be a fly on the wall for Kurt's interview with David Hockney last week. It was a revelation to hear him talk about his way of seeing. And I was surprised to learn that he has started painting on his iPhone, using the 'Brushes' application, to 'paint' lovely little pictures that he then sends off to his friends.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Say you’re from the future, a future in which time machines exist. Why not take a trip back to the good old 21st century? And join us here at WNYC on Tuesday, November 17, as Kurt hosts the live taping of our show all about time travel. You’ll meet some of the great scientists and fiction writers of our time as they grapple with this age-old fantasy, and hopefully you can enlighten us.