Arts & Life

Monkey See
8:43 am
Fri December 13, 2013

First Novels: Acquiring Minds

iStockphoto

The first in my series of posts on The First Novel Experience was called "The Romance of Agents." A couple of people wrote me after it was posted and asked if I was going to include in this series any stories of any writers who'd had a bad time with their books. I thought about it and decided no – at least not yet.

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Movie Reviews
7:30 am
Fri December 13, 2013

A 'Hustle' With Flow (And Plenty Of Flair)

A '70s con-artist couple (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) are forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper, right) in American Hustle, inspired by a real-life sting targeting corrupt politicians.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 2:46 pm

David O. Russell hovers at the top of my list of favorite directors. He captures the messy collision of self-interests that for him defines America. In American Hustle, he whips up a black comedy based on Abscam, the late-'70s FBI sting that centered on a bogus sheik and led to the bribery convictions of sundry U.S. politicians. But he doesn't tell the real Abscam story; he adapts it to fit his theme, which is that most of us are busy reinventing ourselves and conning one another.

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Poetry
5:19 am
Fri December 13, 2013

An Elegy For Mandela Looks Back In Mourning, Forward In Hope

On Dec. 8, three days after Nelson Mandela's death, a girl in Johannesburg lights a candle in his memory. Poet Mbali Vilakazi has written an elegy for Mandela that asks the next generation of South Africans to continue his legacy.
Pedro Ugarte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 7:52 am

In his youth, Nelson Mandela cut a dashing figure. He was a revolutionary, an outlaw — by the early 1960s, he was living underground. And he had a nickname to match: he was known as the Black Pimpernel.

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Movie Interviews
5:19 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Tom Hanks And Emma Thompson On The Magic Of Disney

Chronicling the behind-the-scenes drama of the Mary Poppins film, Saving Mr. Banks stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers.
Francois Duhamel Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 3:09 pm

Before the movie Mary Poppins, there were the beloved books about the nanny who swept in on an east wind to care for the Banks children at No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London.

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Shots - Health News
6:57 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

If You Drank Like James Bond, You'd Be Shaken, Too

James Bond is famous worldwide for his love of martinis and the ladies. But at six or seven drinks a day, the former was likely to hurt his odds with the latter.
Danjaq/ EON Productions

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 10:27 am

We all know James Bond had a hankering for martinis. But it looks like the international spy threw back far more Vespers, his martini of choice, than was good for him.

Dr. Indra Neil Guha, a liver specialist, and his colleagues at Nottingham University Hospital in England spent a year poring over Ian Fleming's James Bond books and tabulating how many drinks the suave spy drank a day.

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Books
5:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Don't Hate The Players, Learn The Rules Of The Game (Theory)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Nov. 13 at the start of a congressional budget conference.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:44 pm

This week, Congress has been pondering yet another deal with a deadline. Congressional leaders have agreed to a bipartisan budget that would set spending levels for the next two years, and if it passes, as expected, it would mark the first bipartisan budget deal since 2011. News of the deal comes again at the last minute, just as Congress begins packing its bags to adjourn for the holidays.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Bilbo's Back, With More Baggage Than Ever

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is back for the second installment of the Hobbit trilogy, this time actually spending some time with Smaug the dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:49 pm

Peter Jackson's decision to turn the single volume of The Hobbit into a three-film epic — with a total running time nearly as long as his adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy — was met with considerable skepticism. Did Tolkien's relatively slight book really have enough story to justify stretching it out that much?

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Making 'Mary Poppins,' With More Than A Spoonful Of Sugar

Saving Mr. Banks chronicles Walt Disney's (Tom Hanks) long campaign to persuade Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to allow his movie-musical adaptation of her books.
Francois Duhamel Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 3:42 pm

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live."

That endlessly quoted line from Joan Didion's The White Album echoes with more than the usual resonance for the two adversaries duking it out for control over the movie adaptation of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks.

For 20 years Walt Disney, reportedly on his young daughters' say-so, had tried to wrestle a green light from P. L. Travers, who wrote the original novels about the discipline-minded governess who flew in through a London window to save a troubled family from itself.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
4:36 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

'Mr. Terupt' Shows What A Difference One Teacher Can Make

Because of Mr. Terupt cover.

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:41 pm

Not to judge a book by its cover, but just take one look at the jacket of Because of Mr. Terupt and you'll see it is the perfect book for December. It shows two mittened hands holding a snowball — a snowball responsible for a life-altering accident.

Mr. Terupt is a popular fifth-grade teacher at Snow Hill elementary school. And for seven students in particular, he is the center of their universe — a sage who gives them advice and confidence and helps them overcome obstacles and rivalries.

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The Two-Way
4:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

So Much For The 'Mozart Effect'

Researchers could not find a link between exposure to music and improved IQs in preschoolers.
Dmitry Naumov iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:02 pm

Music makes the heart grow fonder, but scientists are not so sure that it boosts IQ.

The Boston Globe notes:

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