Arts

12:03pm

Thu June 13, 2013
Music Reviews

Slaid Cleaves: 'Still Fighting' With Smart Lyrics And Stories

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 3:34 pm

Slaid Cleaves' music is influenced by singer-songwriters such as Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.
Karen Cleaves Courtesy of the artist

Raised in South Berwick, Maine, and residing in Austin, Texas, Slaid Cleaves is no one's idea of a music-industry insider. He writes and sings songs primarily about working-class people and romantics both hopeful and hopeless. That said, it's also not difficult to hear another element of the fortysomething Cleaves' past: He was an English and philosophy major at Tufts, and his lyrics are underpinned by both a fine sense of meter and moral perspicacity.

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9:51am

Thu June 13, 2013
Monkey See

Let's Rush To Judgment: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug'

Sir Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.
Warner Brothers Pictures

Well, here it is: the trailer for the next Hobbit movie in the series of three Hobbit movies that will be made out of a single medium-length book.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug doesn't come out until December, but you can already delve into the dragons and mountains and birds (oh my).

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9:39am

Thu June 13, 2013
Books News & Features

Amid Dropping Test Scores, Teen Writers' Creativity Soars

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 10:58 am

NPR correspondent Joseph Shapiro and his daughter Eva spent the weekend at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Eva, 15, won the "Best in Grade" award, one of two for ninth-grade writers, for a short story. She takes writing classes with Writopia Lab in Washington, D.C.

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7:20am

Thu June 13, 2013
The Two-Way

Book News: Inmate Fights For His Right To Read Werewolf Erotica

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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7:04am

Thu June 13, 2013
NPR's Backseat Book Club

The Complete List: What NPR's Backseat Book Club Has Read So Far

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:22 pm

Carina Jaffe, 3; Larissa Jaffe, 9; Denali Jaffe, 10; Zahra Jaffe, 6; and their friend Christina Tonnu, 8, read The Phantom Tollbooth together in Philadelphia.
Courtesy the Jaffe Family

Ever since we launched NPR's Backseat Book Club in 2011, our young listeners have been busy reading — classics like The Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty and The Phantom Tollbooth, and newer tales, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Graveyard Book. If you know a kid age 9-14 who's looking for a great read, look no further: Here are all the books we've read so far. (And here's the list in printable form.)

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7:04am

Thu June 13, 2013
Book Reviews

Reader Advisory: 'Shining Girls' Is Gruesome But Gripping

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 6:18 pm

Borrow from Stephen King a house with a wormhole that somehow allows for time travel, re-create the monstrous chilliness of scenes between a serial killer and his female victims in The Silence of the Lambs, and you could easily end up with a pretty derivative thriller. But talented Cape Town writer Lauren Beukes has managed to turn such borrowing and theft into a triumph in her new novel, The Shining Girls. It's her third book, and a marvelous narrative feat that spans the history of Chicago from the 1930s to the 1990s.

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4:33am

Thu June 13, 2013
Digital Life

From Seinfeld, A Second Season Of 'Coffee' Talk

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 11:01 am

Jerry Seinfeld won a 2013 Webby Award for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Bryan Bedder Getty Images

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is exactly what it sounds like — a show about three things Jerry Seinfeld loves.

Each individual episode of the stand-up comic's Web series features him talking to a fellow comedian while driving across town to get a cup of coffee.

While the premise is simple enough, and the celebrity interview as familiar as any late-night talk-show, the format of C3 allows for a more relaxed and personal tone than the typical sofa-chat format.

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4:27am

Thu June 13, 2013
Monkey See

How To Introduce Kids To Tough Topics? Art And TV Can Help

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 6:31 am

Sue Glader wrote Nowhere Hair after finding many children's books about cancer that were too depressing or scary.
Courtesy Sue Glader

Parents steer their kids to media for all kinds of things: as a distraction so they can make dinner, to teach letters and numbers, and for pure entertainment. There are also times when parents rely on books, TV, museums and other media when they aren't quite sure how to approach a difficult topic by themselves.

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2:39pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

'This Is The End': The Apocalypse Is One Hot Party

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 6:20 pm

James Franco (left), Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are all playing themselves in Rogen's apocalypse comedy This Is the End.
Sony Pictures

So far, the summer's end-of-the-world movies (After Earth, Oblivion) have mostly been provoking unintended yuks, so it's kind of a relief that this week's offerings include one that actually means to be funny.

That This Is the End actually is funny — well, that's even better, especially as it's playing cleverly enough with form to keep your brain occupied, too.

It opens with actor Seth Rogen waiting at the L.A. airport for his comedian buddy Jay Baruchel. And the first thing you hear is a passerby saying "Hey Seth Rogen, what up?"

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1:35pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Music Reviews

Fame Studios And The Road To Nashville Songwriting Glory

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 9:57 am

Fame Studio

Wallace Daniel Pennington grew up singing. His father played guitar and his mother played piano, and by the age of 9, the young man had a guitar of his own. The family attended church on Sunday and Wednesday each week, and to this day, Dan Penn says he remembers the entire Methodist congregation belting out hymns.

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