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Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Musical Alchemist

In All Things Considered, Music, NPR, Pop Culture on March 10, 2013 at 3:30 am

Ukrainian musician and engineer, Oleg Berg, has started an internet trend altering popular hit songs from their major or minor chords to the opposite and thus changing the song’s feel entirely. NPR looks at this trend and the broader issue of how the human brain processes music and the emotional cues presented by a major or minor key. Listen to the full story here.

Kidnapper’s Foil: Forty Years of the Same Film

In History, NPR, On the Media, Pop Culture on February 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Stories like this is why I love NPR.

Melton Barker spent 4 decades traveling the US filming the same movie in any town willing to pay to see their name and residents on the big screen. The film, The Kidnapper’s Foil, loosely centers around the kidnapping of character “Betty  Davis”…but then somehow turns into a town talent show (cue the townies eager to show off of their tap-dancing skills). There are hundreds of versions of The Kidnapper’s Foil dating from the 1930’s to the 70’s.

Caroline Frick, Executive Director of the The Texas Archive of the Moving Image speaks to On the Media about her research and obsession(?) with Melton Barker.

There is no script for the interview, but the 9min audio is well worth it. You can view several versions of The Kidnapper’s Foil and search for your home town here.

From African Mummies to the Harlem Shake

In All Things Considered, History, International, Music, Pop Culture on February 22, 2013 at 1:33 am

I’ll admit, I was late to the Harlem Shake phenomenon. A 30-second video where one person dances to a dubstep beat surrounded by people seemingly going about a task not paying attention, then 15 seconds in the video cuts to everyone dancing with obscure costumes and props. Here NPR speaks with Jay Smooth, Harlemite and host of the hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine, about the origin of the Harlem Shake and how it has evolved into the popular meme.

Also worth a read: Long Before the Harlem Shake, We Did the Shimmy

Are you in on the secret? Menus that is.

In Food, Morning Edition, NPR, Pop Culture on February 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a “secret” item before…but am I really missing out? 8 patties, really?!

NPR reveals the latest restaurant to go hidden.

In & Out is probably the best known "secret menu" fast food restaurant

In & Out is probably the best known “secret menu” fast food restaurant

For your curiosity:

18 Secret Menu Items [via Business Insider]

The Best Hidden Menus [via Ranker]

“Give me a child until he is 7, and I will show you the man.”

In Fresh Air, International, NPR, Pop Culture, Television on February 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

The  monumental British documentary series, 7 UP, first followed 14 seven-year-olds from varying economic backgrounds in 1964 – and has continued checking in every seven years thereafter. This year marks the 7th follow up, the cute and candid 7-year-olds are now 56…and after 49 years, the personalities and social statuses haven’t skewed much.

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross spoke with the director, Michael Apted, and one of the 14 subjects, Nick Hitchon, on their experience with the series and thoughts on the latest installment. Listen to the interview here.

“[T]he idea was that we would get some 7-year-old children from different backgrounds — from rich backgrounds, from poor backgrounds, from rural backgrounds … and have them talk about their lives … and see whether that told us anything. And of course it did, because it was both very funny and also chilling, showing that, in fact, the class system was very active, and that people in certain backgrounds had a real vision of their future, and others really didn’t know what day it was.”

Also worth reading:

○ They Grow Up, but They Remain a Lifetime Pursuit [NY Times]

What “56 UP” Reveals [New Yorker]

Maurice Sendak Posthumous Farewell

In Morning Edition, News, NPR, Pop Culture on February 5, 2013 at 1:14 am

Fifty years after Where the Wild Things Are, beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak has a new book, even though he passed away last year. Morning Edition spoke with Tony Kushner, long time friend of Sendak, about My Brother’s BookA touching conversation about Sendak, his last work, and the meanings behind so many of our favorite stories.

“There’s a lot of consuming and devouring and eating in Maurice’s books. And I think that when people play with kids, there’s a lot of fake ferocity and threats of, you know, devouring, because love is so enormous, the only thing you can think of doing is swallowing the person that you love entirely.”

Published posthumously, Maurice Sendak's My Brother's Book combines poetry and art in an elegy to Sendak's brother. []

Published posthumously, Maurice Sendak’s My Brother’s Book combines poetry and art in an elegy to Sendak’s brother. []

Kentucky, from “Unbridled Spirit” to “Kicks Ass”

In News, NPR, Pop Culture on January 29, 2013 at 1:41 am

In Kentucky, two young ad execs are advocating for this new state slogan:


Proposed new state slogan

“You have to stand out, and you have to take risks if you want to do this branding and to get noticed…you need mantras that people can rally behind.”

Read more here.

200 years of Mr. Darcy

In History, NPR, Pop Culture, Television on January 29, 2013 at 1:15 am

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is celebrating it’s 200th birthday. The BBC naturally had lots of coverage, which brought my attention to Austenland, a rom com/mockumentary about a young woman obsessed with Pride & Prejudice. Watch the movie trailer and Sundance review here.



Happy 200th Pride & Prejudice!

Happy 200th Pride & Prejudice!

• Also worth reading: “Janeites: The curious American cult of Jane Austen” [BBC]

• The Real Jane Austen, book review. [Fresh Air]

A look at Lincoln’s Inaugural menu

In Food, History, NPR, Politics, Pop Culture on January 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

A day behind, but still worth sharing. Smithsonian Magazine writer Megan Gambino recently wrote about Lincoln’s menu for his second inaugural ball – which ended in some-what of a food fight.  Listen to the NPR story here.

“The floor of the supper room was soon sticky, pasty and oily with wasted confections, mashed cake, and debris of fowl and meat…”

Menu for Lincoln's 2nd inaugural ball, March 6, 1865 [Smithsonian Institution /]

Menu for Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural ball, March 6, 1865 [Smithsonian Institution /]

Inauguration 101

In History, NPR, Politics, Pop Culture on January 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm

5 interesting factoids about the inauguration that will surely help strengthen your Trivial Pursuit game.

And from ABC news, “12 surprising facts about Inauguration.” (quite fascinating, actually)

[MPI/Getty Images]

[MPI/Getty Images]