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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

What was behind the decision not to invite the artists behind two tunes nominated for Best Original Song to perform on Sunday night's Academy Awards broadcast?

Photo courtesy Atlanta History Center

Crowd-sourcing isn’t a common way to curate a history exhibit but that's how the Atlanta History Center opted to put together a new show about Atlanta.

After all, Atlantans are the best experts on what represents their city.

Among the 300 public submissions were Coca Cola, WSB, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN, the Peachtree Road Race and, to the surprise of curators, “trees."

Below, you can hear my recent tour with curator Amy Wilson:

 

SOUND EFFECT: Woman's voice" "Welcome aboard the Plane Train." 

We're about 300 emails and one month in. We started with seven people and swelled to eight, though the composition of the group has changed a little bit.

Dexter Palmer does not do simple. His debut novel, 2011's The Dream of Perpetual Motion, was a complex, intricate mechanism of a book, a postmodern steampunk sprawl set in a dreamlike world. His second (and unrelated) novel, Version Control, is equally complex. But Palmer picks a far less fantastic setting for his latest reality-distorting vision: A fictional college town in New Jersey called Stratton, just a handful of years in the future.

Marley Dias is like a lot of 11-year-olds: She loves getting lost in a book.

But the books she was reading at school were starting to get on her nerves. She enjoyed Where The Red Fern Grows and the Shiloh series, but those classics, found in so many elementary school classrooms, were all about white boys or dogs ... or white boys and their dogs, Marley says.

Black girls, like Marley, were almost never the main character.

Eleven-year-old Neel Sethi is about to be kidnapped by monkeys. Rigged up to a harness in front of a blue screen, he prepares to run, leap and cavort — a live-action dance that will later be mixed with computer-generated animals.

Just days away from the Oscars, Hollywood continues to face down questions over its lack of diversity — particularly among the nominees for its top prize. The controversy has helped prompt a viral hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, and has led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to pledge to diversify in years to come.

At the end of a grueling Academy Awards race, we at Pop Culture Happy Hour like to unwind with a good, long talk we call our "Oscars Omnibus" — a roundup of our thoughts on all the Best Picture nominees, notable acting nominees, and issues and themes surrounding the prior year in movies. This year gave us plenty to chew on, as you can imagine, and as you can hear for yourself on this page.

All that glitters is not gold in the chintzy mythological adventure Gods of Egypt, but most of it is — a CGI jewel-box festooned with golden sands and towering spires, golden spears and diamond-spackled bracelets, and metallic wings that shimmer in the sun. Even the gods themselves, once shivved in battle, bleed out in resplendent puddles of liquid gold.

In Triple 9's beyond-shadowy opening, a group of reprobates discusses plans for a military-precision bank robbery. The illumination is so dim that a bit of Anthony Mackie's brow is about all that's visible. Subsequent scenes allow a little more light, yet this laughably nihilistic movie just gets darker and darker.

A 'Last Man' Imperfectly Remembered

Feb 25, 2016

Humans have an easier time remembering the first and last of things than we do the middles. The ends bulge out in our minds, becoming signifiers of the whole. So for someone raised in the United States, when you're asked to recall the men we've sent to the moon, your mind probably goes first to the originals: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. You'll perhaps associate their names with the swelling up of pride the nation felt at seeing those boots hit the lunar turf for the first time.

This story was inspired by a question at an insanely hard Oscars trivia night in Los Angeles last year: Which family has the most Oscar nominations?

Grant Blankenship / Georgia Public Broadcasting

For Southerners who have lived and struggled with the issue of race all their lives, it can be tough to see it with fresh eyes.

Sometimes you need an outsider. When it comes to race in one Southern city, Macon, Ga.,  playwright Mark Mobley is just that.

The play “What Color Is Your Brother?” is the product of Mobley taking his outsider's view into conversations with Macon locals on the issue of race. The project grew out of Mobley's longtime friendship with a Macon native, renown violinist Robert McDuffie.

Publishing giant Simon & Schuster is launching a new imprint, Salaam Reads, which will focus on children's and young adult books featuring Muslim kids and families.

The company said in a statement that it believes Salaam Reads, launched Wednesday, is "the first imprint at a major publisher focused on Muslim characters and stories." (The five big publishing houses are home to several Christian imprints, while numerous small, independent publishers focus on a variety of religions.)

You may have read something like this over the past few weeks, in the run-up to this year's hotly contested Academy Awards ceremony:

If your memory of virtual reality still includes climbing on a platform at the mall and strapping on a clunky headset, know that the '90s are long over and the future is in your hands ... literally. Recently VR has evolved into a medium where anybody with a computer or smartphone can experience it.

A few years back, two high-school friends from Vancouver met up in New York and combined their musical talents to form a poppy electronic duo under the moniker Bob Moses. Their star is rising fast, and KCRW was thrilled to host their U.S. live radio debut. "Tearing Me Up" sounds to us like an unmistakable hit.

Set List

  • "Tearing Me Up"

Watch Bob Moses' full performance at KCRW.com.

Here's What People Are Doing Sunday Night To Avoid Watching The Oscars

Feb 25, 2016

If you're tired of overwhelming whiteness at the Academy Awards, you're in good company. Famous people and normals alike have expressed indignation over the fact that for the second year in a row, zero people of color were nominated for any acting award.

Plenty Of Shadows Loom In 'Gathering'

Feb 25, 2016

The title of this followup to V.E. Schwab's 2015 fantasy novel A Darker Shade Of Magic might be considered a warning for impatient readers: In A Gathering Of Shadows, plenty of shadows gather. Portents simmer. Tension mounts. Disaster looms. Evil threatens. But nothing much comes of any of it until the final pages, which dash to an intense cliffhanger ending.

Why Even A Bad Review Can Help Sell A Book

Feb 25, 2016

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep with a test of some old sayings about your public image.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

People say all publicity is good publicity.

INSKEEP: People also say I don't care what the newspapers say about me, as long as they spell my name right.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The night Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston, the reigning heavyweight champion, crowds had squeezed into the venue, expecting to watch Liston beat the stuffing out of the young braggart. The odds were 7-to-1 in Liston's favor. The air was filled with testosterone and cigar smoke. Few people noticed the tall, quiet man at ringside, immaculately dressed in a dark suit and tie and crisp white shirt, watching the fight intently.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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President Obama has nominated Carla D. Hayden as the next librarian of Congress. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and first African-American ever to lead the world's largest library.

Hayden is currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.

In a White House statement, Obama says he and the first lady have known Hayden since she was at the Chicago Public Library, where she was deputy commissioner and chief librarian from 1991-1993.

As if there's not enough controversy over the Oscars, there's also the matter of a curse.

The French have gotten themselves into one of their recurrent linguistic lathers, this one over the changes in their spelling that will be taking effect in the fall. The changes were originally proposed more than 25 years ago. But nothing much came of them until the government recently announced that they'd be incorporated in the new textbooks, at which point traditionalists took to the barricades.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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