Games + Leisure

Games + Leisure

It's family vacation time, and I've taken the kids back to where I grew up — a small plot of land off a dirt road in Kansas.

For my city kids, this is supposed to be heaven. There are freshly laid chicken eggs to gather, new kittens to play with and miles of pasture to explore.

But we're not outside.

I'm sitting in my childhood bedroom watching my 7-year-old son and his 11-year-old-cousin stare at a screen. The older kid is teaching the younger the secrets of one of the most popular games on Earth: Minecraft.

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle has a bit of wordplay. Change one letter in each word provided to make two new words. The letter you change must be in the same position in each word of the pair. And the letter you change each of them to will be the same letter of the alphabet.

For example, "relief" and "mallet" become "belief" and "ballet."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

On-air challenge: For every word provided (all starting with the letter "W"), give a proverb or saying that contains that word.

Last week's challenge: Take the phrase "I am a monarch." Rearrange the 11 letters to name a world leader who was not a monarch, but who ruled with similar authority. Who is it?

Answer: Chairman Mao.

Winner: David Slobodin of Asheville, North Carolina.

Astronaut Sunita Williams, known as Sunny around the Johnson Space Center, has spent a total of 322 days in space. She holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time (50 hours and 40 minutes) conducted by a female astronaut.

So since Williams is such an expert on outer space, we're going to quiz her on storage space. She'll answer three questions about the fascinating world of rental storage units.

Who's That Batgirl? 'Burnside' Charms Despite Stumbles

Jun 16, 2015

"I guess you can't trust any Batgirl these days," Barbara Gordon says roguishly (she does everything roguishly) in Batgirl Vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside. It's a sly, even subversive line, referring to the fact that the role has been played by many different characters — and in many different ways — over the years. With Barbara's comment, the authors reiterate their cleverly layered theme: Identity, especially in the digital age, is anything but fixed.

Every once in a while we have someone on the show who we can't believe agreed to be on the show. Case in point: Kim Kardashian is a producer, entrepreneur, designer, model, mom, tabloid magazine life support system — and now a star of public radio.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a famous, one-named singer like Madonna or Beyoncé. Identify each name from its anagram, to which one extra letter is added. The singers are a mix of past and present. For example, given "ADS" plus "E," the answer is "Sade."

The Science Of 'Collected Fiction' Is Pure Magic

May 20, 2015

I have just finished Hannu Rajaniemi's Collected Fiction and I am still recovering.

My mind feels constellated. I am keenly, weirdly, expansively aware of explosions still taking place inside my head. The world has shifted while I read, and the quartz in the necklace I wear is full of super computers breathing sentience against my skin. There are eyes threaded through scarves over the windowsill. I want to learn everything.

Fun, Fast-Moving 'Nimona' Is A Perpetual Surprise

May 19, 2015

Over the course of the collected Nimona, it's possible to watch artist Noelle Stevenson blossom from a student to a superstar. Nimona originated as a two-page art-school experiment that expanded into a webcomic, published biweekly on Stevenson's website over the course of two years. What began in a visually and narratively simple style in June 2012 rapidly became more elaborate and sophisticated, expanding into a showcase for Stevenson's rapidly evolving talents.

Tony Robbins has been traveling the world for decades giving his intensive three-day seminars on improving your life, and he's written a number of best-selling books.

The life coach is famous as a go-getter. So we invited him to answer three questions about stay-putters — incredibly lazy people.

Ellen McLain had a long career as an opera singer. But now her voice is most famous for something entirely different: video games. McLain is the voice of GLaDOS, the passive-aggressive computer in the games Portal and Portal 2.

Back in 1890, Thomas Edison gave us some of the world's first talking dolls. Today, the glassy-eyed cherubs that are still around stand about 2 feet tall; they have wooden limbs and a metal body; and they sound supercreepy. (If you're looking for a soundtrack to your nightmares, listen to the audio story above.) Edison built and sold about 500 of them back in 1890. Now, new technology has made hearing them possible for the first time in decades.

Back when he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, Jonathan Adler was told that he'd never make it as an artist, and he should go be a lawyer. But Adler continued making his pottery, and today his design empire includes 26 stores named for him all over the world.

On-air challenge: Each word provided is an anagram of something you might see in a kitchen. For example, "skin" is an anagram of "sink."

There's no shortage of tech startups in Silicon Valley, and since these companies are founded by people who can identify every Star Wars character at the drop of a hat, their names tend to sound pretty weird. Is Zurg a new app that analyzes your dreams, Doctor Who's nemesis, or a 12th-century warlord? For our show at San Francisco Sketchfest, we make contestants earn their nerd cred by telling us — is it a historical figure, a sci-fi villain or a tech company?

See if you measure up with our quiz!

Some childhood symbols straddle the line between adorable and terrifying. Like clowns. Or Furbys.

Some dolls fit the category, too, with spooky eyes that seem to move or a porcelain pallor. They're not all Chucky, but some of them just don't seem quite right.

Listener Anne McLaughlin grew up with a cabinet full of dolls — including a pretty dancer doll and a set of wooden nesting dolls. But one, she says, stood out.

People across the world are eating pies and celebrating the circle this Saturday — and this year's Pi Day is particularly special. The full date, 3/14/15, is pi to the first four places. At 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds, you can even celebrate pi to nine places: 3.141592653.

Fasten your seat belts, true believers. If you haven't flipped through a comic book in a while, you might be in for quite a surprise come May. The entire Marvel multiverse is collapsing.

Forget about seeing the Wolverine we knew any time soon. And the current Ghost Rider? Before long, his current story line will be gone like, well, a ghost. In the new Marvel universe, coming in May, characters and continuities will be reimagined.

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