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Games + Leisure

Games + Leisure

Low-Key, Real-Life Heroism In 'March: Book Two'

Jan 29, 2015

Some media are custom-made for heroes. Ava DuVernay's gripping film Selma gains much of its drama from the beauty — physical and metaphysical — of David Oyelowo's portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oyelowo's incredible voice gives practically everything King says the compelling force of a sermon, and his physical presence — strangely small and economical of motion — is as unique as it is potent.

Cartoonist and theorist Scott McCloud is sometimes called the "Aristotle of Comics" because of his three landmark nonfiction works: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics. He's a man who's spent a lot of time thinking about making art — and that's reflected in The Sculptor, his first full-length graphic novel.

Sunday Puzzle: S.V. You

Jan 18, 2015

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials S.V. For example, given "noted Idaho ski resort," you would say "Sun Valley."

Last week's challenge: From listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. Think of a U.S. city whose name has nine letters. Remove three letters from the start of the name and three letters from the end. Only two will remain. How is this possible, and what city is it?

Flinging birds at pigs and moving jelly beans around a little screen are not human instincts. Game designers create the urge to do those things for hours at a time.

"From the way the games are designed to help us start playing the game, to the way they keep us coming back to the game, to how they involve our friends in the game — all of these things have underpinnings in consumer psychology," says game consultant Nir Eyal.

There is no shortage of diet programs available to those that seek to lose weight. But for many, taking those initial steps into a weight loss and exercise program can be an intimidating leap.

A new study from the University of Kansas Medical Center, however, shows that the online game Second Life helped some people lose weight — and keep it off — in real life.

My Nintendo Wii character, my Mii, looks a lot like me. She has the same haircut, the same skin tone and even the same eyebrow shape. And while my Mii plays tennis slightly better than I do, I designed her to be a real, virtual me (albeit with balls for hands).

But it turns out I might not have needed to mimic my appearance to let people know what I'm like.

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this page we posted the wrong on-air challenge. The correct on-air challenge for the week is posted below.

On-air challenge: Given a clue, each response is a two-word answer with the first word starting with B-R and the second word starting with R.

Last week's challenge: Take the following 5-word sentence: "THOSE BARBARIANS AMBUSH HEAVIER FIANCEES." These 5 words have something very unusual in common. What is it?

Jenny Slate is a standup comedian, actor and writer who has rocketed to fame with her online film series Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and the movie Obvious Child.

But there are some other famous Jennifers out there; we've invited Slate to play a game called "You're Jenny from the Block" — three questions about J. Lo.

Marvel Comics has provided some of Hollywood's biggest box-office characters ever: The Avengers, the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Spider-Man, all starring in gargantuan special effects blockbusters.

And like every superhero, Marvel Comics has an origin story. It begins in New York City, in 1939.

Two years ago this day, a 23-year-old woman was brutally gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi. Three days later she died from her injuries. The incident pushed millions in the city and all over India to protest the widespread violence against women. The protests led to tougher laws and empowered women to stand up against sexual violence.

And one man was inspired to create a comic book superhero.

Ram Devineni, a New York-based filmmaker, gave life to Priya, a survivor of gang rape who seeks to stop violence against women.

Tristan Walker is successful by anyone's standards: He went to a top-notch prep school, graduated as valedictorian at college, went on to become a trader on Wall Street, earned an MBA at Stanford, and then helped to launch the location app Foursquare.

But what makes Walker so remarkable is that he is one of the few African-Americans to rise up the ranks in Silicon Valley.

Wait Wait is in Austin, Texas this week, and so we've invited country singer Dale Watson to play our quiz. Watson has that true Austin sound — not to mention his own honky-tonk bar.

We've invited Watson to play a game called, "Elementary, my dear Dale!" Three questions about the immortal detective, Sherlock Holmes.

The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.

Harvard professor and New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore reveals this and other surprising details about Marston in the new book The Secret History of Wonder Woman.

As the ongoing, harassment-fueled controversy known as Gamergate rages into its second month with no sign of dying down, the Pew Research Center is out with new numbers on online harassment.

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???????

Elizabeth Gilbert was a successful magazine writer in New York when she went through a life crisis and decided to travel the world. When she got back, her book Eat Pray Love become one of the biggest best-sellers of the past decade, along with its sequel Committed. Her latest novel is called The Signature of All Things.

This is a story about love. It's a story about bad things happening to good people, about memory and perseverance — and comic books. But most of all, it's a story about a voice. A mellow, smooth voice, just right for late-night jazz.

The NFL season is looming, and with it comes the new version of the Madden NFL video game — a franchise that has sold more than 100 million copies over the last 25 years.

Each year, Madden gets more and more realistic. "The NFL superstars definitely look like their real life counterparts would," says Samit Sarkar, a reporter for the gaming website Polygon.

Until recently, no video games on the market have told the story of an indigenous people from their perspective. A group of Alaskan natives have partnered with a game developer to change that.

Their game is called Never Alone, and its creators hope it will set a new standard in video game development.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Bad To The Bone

Aug 5, 2014

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is ba-a-a-ad. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with BA- and the second word starts with D-.

Last week's challenge: This challenge came from listener Matt Jones of Portland, Ore. There are three popular men's names, each six letters long, that differ by only their first letters. In other words, the last five letters of the names are all the same, in the same order. Of the three different first letters, two are consonants and one is a vowel. What names are these?

This week's show is a very special event for us: it's our visit to Comic-Con.

Because Maggie Thompson (mother to PCHH regular Stephen Thompson) was a special guest at San Diego Comic-Con this year, she invited us to do a panel discussion with her. So Stephen, Glen Weldon and I — along with a crucial audio assist from our pal Petra Mayer — set up in one of the rooms upstairs in the convention center and taped a show. (We still don't know what caused the constant thumping. This is what happens when we travel without our producer, Jessica.)

A pacifier and a knife: These two images open The Graveyard Book, P. Craig Russell's graphic adaptation of Neil Gaiman's 2009 novel. They're oddly complementary devices, the tool of infancy and the weapon of grownups, expressing the quixotic innocence of a kids' book (well, young-adult book) set in a place of death.

Amy Tan grew up all around the Bay Area where her Chinese American family was part of a group of friends they called "The Joy Luck Club." In 1989, Amy published a book of stories by that name, which became an international bestseller. Her latest novel is The Valley of Amazement.

We've invited Tan to play a game called: "It's the bronze golden look that says, 'early death from melanoma!'" Three questions about tanning and the tanning industry.

The first time I took one of the online Myers-Briggs inventories and it spit out that I was an introvert, one of my friends questioned the results. Specifically, he said, "Are you sure you weren't holding the test upside-down?"

Every summer thousands of interns flood the offices of Capitol Hill. One of their primary duties is to give constituents tours of the famous buildings. They parade visitors from the rotunda to statuary hall, offering stories and anecdotes.

But while these intern tours provide a great deal of information, they are sometimes a little short on actual history.

Book News: The Clash Of The Comic(-)Cons

Jul 28, 2014

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a game of categories based on the word peony. For each category, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters P-E-O-N-Y.

Last week's challenge: Name something in five letters that's nice to have a lot of in the summer. Change the last letter to the following letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result, and you'll name something else that you probably have a lot of in the summer, but that you probably don't want. What is it? (HINT: the second thing is a form of the first thing.)

When the news broke that Thor, the hyper-masculine thunder god, had become a woman, my Twitter feed exploded. It seemed like everybody had something to say. "Who will play the female Thor in the movies?" came up a lot. Meanwhile, I first had to figure out who Thor was. To me, stories about superheroes were for nerdy white guys imagining a world where they could lift heavy things and somehow get the girl. In short, boring. I was hopelessly behind the times.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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