This week on Studio 360, we take an in-depth look at The Wizard of Oz, assuredly one of the most beloved (and bizarre) fables to capture Americans' imaginations. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Warner Bros' film adaptation of Frank L. Baum's children's book and for the past year the studio has been throwing the movie quite the birthday party. The festivities will come to a gloriously over-the-top conclusion next month with an event Warner Bros. is calling 'The Emerald Gala' in New York City.
This week, Angela Frucci brings us the story of Ocarina, the iPhone app created by computer programmer Ge Wang that allows you 'play' your iPhone by blowing into its microphone (with pleasant, vaguely pan-pipe-like results). A YouTube search yields Ocarina performances of everything from 'Stairway to Heaven' to that favorite of high school choral directors 'Oh Shenandoah.' It's not hard to see why Ocarina's so popular -- this is cheery, melodic stuff.
John Hughes, the director who brought us the '80s classics 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' 'The Breakfast Club,' and 'Sixteen Candles,' passed away yesterday. Hughes was the undisputed master of the teen movie: the high school scene he depicted over twenty years ago is still imitated, never equaled. Maybe that's because he was truly sympathetic to teens and their problems.
This week on Studio 360, Nick Heling talks to Muslim punk rockers The Kominas about taqwacore, the movement inspired by novelist Michael Muhammad Knight's 2002 novel The Taqwacores. Photographer Kim Badawi met Knight shortly after Taqwacores was published, and in 2006 began tagging along on tours with taqwa bands The Kominas and Secret Trial Five, snapping pics of the scene in its infancy. Now that taqwacore is a raging adolescent, Brooklyn publisher powerHouse (which specializes in not-your-mamma's coffee table books) has come out with a beautiful new book of Badawi's photos: The Taqwacores: Muslim Punk in the U.S.A.. What I love about Badawi's photos are the juxtapositions: there's the obligatory sex, drugs, and thrashing guitars, but also veiled heads, prayer rugs, and band members bowed towards Mecca.
On July 4th, Kurt caught up with They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh, John Linnell, and Marty Beller at the Aspen Ideas Festival and found out why the sun really shines. (The special show airs on Studio 360 this weekend.) Not in attendance were John and John's sock puppet alter egos - the delightfully orange emcees of the They Might Be Giants' Friday Night Family Podcast. If you haven't checked out the podcast yet, you're in for a treat. I may have mastered my ABCs and 123s long ago, but I still get a kick out of a puppet dressed like George Washington. Also in this episode (from President's Day weekend 2008) a psychedelic ode to the always under-appreciated number two.
Remember Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Kurt sat down with the up-and-coming Nigerian writer last December - on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Things Fall Apart - to ask how it felt being called the "21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe." Her answer? Pretty good. Now Adichie's come out with a wonderful new collection of short stories called The Thing Around Your Neck. She read a selection from her story "The Shivering" at the Sydney Writers' Festival in May - it's subtle, funny, touching. Check it out (and start one minute in to get right to the story).
This week on Studio 360 we take a look at F. Scott Fitzgerald's American classic The Great Gatsby. We might not like to admit it, but Gatsby's popularity--and its iconic status--has more than a little to do with length.