Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 6:20 pm
The X-Men comic franchise has proven remarkably sturdy in the half-century since its launch. They've spawned dozens of animated series and four major Hollywood films with a fifth due out this summer. A big part of that is due to its central premise — a minority of superpowered humans called mutants are discriminated against by their government and fellow citizens — which has functioned as a sci-fi allegory for everything from the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis.
The old bathroom building behind Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in rural Vacherie, La., was little more than a shack. Hurricane Rita almost knocked it down in 2005. It finally got bulldozed in October.
Some members of the parish say that was long overdue.
When the bathroom building went up in 1959, one set of doors was painted white; the others were a different color. Ushers would follow black parishioners outside to make sure they entered the correct door.
Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 9:25 am
It doesn't take an expert to identify this sound as a jazz rhythm:
Musicians call it "spang-a-lang," for obvious phonetic reasons, and it's so synonymous with jazz, it no longer occurs to us that someone had to invent it. But someone did: a drummer named Kenny Clarke, who would have turned 100 today.
Sue Monk Kidd's new novel is a story told by two women whose lives are wrapped together — beginning, against their wills, when they're young girls. One is a slave; the other, her reluctant owner. One strives her whole life to be free; the other rebels against her slave-owning family and becomes a prominent abolitionist and early advocate for women's rights.
The book, The Invention of Wings, takes on both slavery and feminism — and it's inspired by the life of a real historical figure.
It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.
But then the live band starts up — performing songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis. And instead of a sermon, there's a lecture by experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Jessica Cail about the biology of gender identification and sexual orientation.
Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 7:33 am
Legendary bluesman Tabby Thomas died Wednesday at the age of 84.
He would have celebrated his 85 birthday on Sunday.
NOLA.com/The Times-Picayunereports that Thomas was probably best known for opening Tabby's Blue Box in Baton Rouge, La. He opened the club in the late 1970s, giving Louisiana blues musicians, who had lost opportunities because of the disco craze, a place to play.
Blues-lovers from around the globe flocked to Tabby's.
As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year — numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. You'll hear the stories behind numbers ranging from zero to 1 trillion.
When it comes to race and film, the number of the year is 11.