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Glen Weldon

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

"Why is a welder like a woman in love?"

I'm 7 years old, standing between the two dogwood trees in my backyard. It's autumn; there's a crispness in the golden, late afternoon air. I've taken the hood of my parka and thrown it over my head, but my arms are not in the sleeves. The coat falls over my narrow, bird-boned shoulders and down my back.

Like a cape, you see.

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

So. How'd you do?

Did you follow my advice in making your Oscar pool picks?

... You did? All of them? Hunh.

Well then. That means you got 13 out of the evening's 24 categories correct.

That's ... 54%.

So. Yes. Well. Cough.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

A literary treasure buried for more than a century has been unearthed by Zachary Turpin, a grad student at the University of Houston.

Updated 10:57 a.m.

Updated 9:53 a.m.

Updated 9:25 a.m.

When the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards were announced this morning, La La Land racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve.

Herschell Gordon Lewis, who died earlier this week at the age of 87, wore several hats over the course of his life: advertising copywriter. Self-styled direct-marketing guru. And, most famously, director of exploitation films of various stripes (nudie, splatter, nudie-splatter).

The 2016 Emmy Awards are 83 percent over.

Think about that next Sunday night, as some sudsy production number lumbers on or yet another powerfully unnecessary montage/tribute — "A Salute To: The Laugh Track!" — brings the proceedings to a lurching halt.

It will take host Jimmy Kimmel and company three hours and change to hand out 19 Emmy statues. If that sounds inefficient to you, consider this chilling fact: There are in fact 110 Emmy categories this year.

Actor and writer Gene Wilder, who brought his signature manic energy to films such as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the role that forever ensconced him in the collective memory of a generation of children, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died. He was 83.

Wilder died early Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn., of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to a statement from his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At the San Diego Comic-Con now underway, toys, comic books and costumes fill the exhibit floor with color and light. It's a crush of bodies buzzing on adrenaline and fan joy.

On Wednesday night, the film Star Trek: Beyond held its red-carpet premiere at San Diego Comic-Con. They went all out – a live orchestra, fireworks, a laser show. Conan O'Brien hosted the gig. NPR's Nina Gregory reported on it for Morning Edition yesterday.

Full disclosure, here at the start: I don't know Pokemon.

That's not technically true; here's a list of everything I knew about Pokemon before playing the new smartphone app, Pokemon GO (this knowledge absorbed solely through cultural osmosis, given the phenomenon's ubiquity).

1. Pikachu is a kind (species?) of Pokemon. It is an "electric-type" Pokemon. It is yellow. It has a cutesy voice. Said voice is profoundly annoying.

2. Squirtle is another kind of Pokemon, a "water-type" Pokemon. It, as one might imagine, squirts.

Her name is Riri Williams. She reverse-engineered her own version of the Iron Man battlesuit in her MIT dorm room, got kicked out, and struck out on her own to do the superhero thing. Clumsily at first, but she's learning fast. So fast she's impressing Tony Stark, who's questioning his status as the Marvel Universe's go-to, super-powered Campbell's soup can. Readers first met her in the March issue of Invincible Iron Man.

[Spoilers ahead for the finales of both Veep and Game Of Thrones. Obviously.]

Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

-- Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 6

Well then, why don't we send WARSHIPS into the South China Seas? I WANT! MY NOBEL! PEACE PRIZE!

-- President Selina Meyer, Veep, Season 5, Episode 10

Last night on HBO, two venal, scheming rulers saw their secret machinations come to ruinous ends — literally ruinous, for one of them.

"Nostalgia," a wise man once wrote, "is the nutrient agar upon which nerd culture grows."

The mechanics of DC Comics' latest relaunch of its superhero line — precisely which books are returning to their original numbering, and the fact that several titles will now be published twice monthly, etc. — have engendered much discussion among retailers and collectors.

But let's talk big picture.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that superhero universes periodically reshuffle their narrative decks. The in-story explanations differ in often tortuous ways, but the only true driver is sales. Or, rather, a lack of them.

My wife's the reason anything gets done

She nudges me towards promise, by degrees

She is the perfect symphony of one

Our son is her most beautiful reprise

We chase the melodies that seem to find us

Until they're finished songs, and start to play

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day

This show is proof that history remembers

Finally! Cease your clamoring, millennials!

Last week, Sony Pictures announced that it had signed action star/sirloin slab Dwayne Johnson to star in a Doc Savage film. Last night came reports that Sacha Baron Cohen has been attached to Warner Bros.' upcoming big screen adaption of classic hero/gadabout/mesmerist Mandrake the Magician.

Yesterday the Library of Congress named graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang as its fifth National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Here's why that matters.

Drawn and Quarterly, the Montreal-based publisher of comics and graphic novels, began life as a magazine, released in April of 1990. That first issue served as a de facto mission statement, laying out what the company would one day achieve on a grander scale – and what it would strive always to avoid.

Another first Saturday in May, another blockbuster superhero movie set to bust our collective blocks, another Free Comic Book Day.

"What's Free Comic Book Day?" you ask, because you've managed to ignore the gallons of virtual ink I've spilled about it on this blog every year since 2009.

(No look it's fine, I get it, but at this point it's starting to look like willful obtuseness on your part, ok?)

The fourth and final issue of the weekly, four-issue Marvel Comics miniseries Death of Wolverine, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Steve McNiven, will be published Wednesday. This prompted an incredulous text from a friend, Golfrguy, to NPR's nerd-about-town Glen Weldon:

Golfrguy: dude they're killing off wolverine???????

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon recently attended San Diego Comic-Con. He kept a diary during one of the largest media events in the world.

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon recently attended San Diego Comic-Con. He kept a diary during one of the largest media events in the world.

8:28 p.m.: Jennifer and Matthew Holm are an adorable brother-sister team. They are standing at a podium less than 6 feet away from me and thanking their publisher, because their charming book, Babymouse for President, has just won the Eisner for Best Publication for Early Readers.

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon recently attended San Diego Comic-Con. He kept a diary during one of the largest media events in the world.

9:30 a.m.: I file the Day 1 diary with Linda and send out a tweet asking Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners who are attending Comic-Con to come to the Marriott bar at 5:30 today to get a PCHH pin. It's something on the order of a "meetup," as the kids say.

Yeah, I know. I don't recognize myself either.

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon is headed to San Diego Comic-Con. He's filing periodic updates from one of the largest media events in the world.

I am a 45-year-old man standing in line for a toy Batmobile.

Ted is a theoretical physicist facing a slew of resolutely concrete problems. His son is racing headlong into puberty. His daughter's prodigious intellect causes her to stand out at school — the very last thing the girl wants. His elderly father-in-law isn't remembering much, these days, save for the fact that he hates Ted's guts. His wife is sick and getting sicker, just as his employer, a prominent think tank, threatens to fire him for lack of productivity. To keep his job, and its health care coverage, Ted needs an idea.

It looks like a last-minute gift, like one of those tiny tomes that live near the register on the counter of your favorite bookstore, hoping to catch the attention (or at least the impulse) of shoppers in the check-out line. Given its digest-sized dimensions and jokey title, you'd be forgiven for assuming A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting is a hastily assembled collection of cornball homilies, like those miniature books about dads, grads and golf that double as greeting cards this time of year. But don't be fooled.

Hey, Monkey See readers. It's me, your old pal Glen. Look, I know you haven't seen me around these parts very much over the last year or so, but ...

Mm? What's that?

Why, yes, I have "put on a few," as you say. How nice of you to notice. And just ... blurt out. Free as you please. Like that. Gosh I've missed us.

This Saturday, May 4th, is Free Comic Book Day, the comics industry's annual attempt to sail out past the shallow, overfished shoals where Nerds Like Me lazily and inexpertly spawn, to instead cast their line into the colder, deeper waters where Normals Like You swim free, blissfully unconcerned about the myriad nettlesome continuity issues surrounding Supergirl's underpants.

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