18-50 Segment 1: The Many Planets Outside Our Galaxy and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

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We know about the planets within the Milky Way Galaxy, but what about planets outside of our neighborhood? We talk to Dr. Donald Goldsmith about “exoplanets” and where science stands on the issue of life thriving somewhere else in the universe.

Guest:

  • Dr. Donald Goldsmith, author of Exoplanets: Hidden Worlds and the Quest for Extraterrestrial Life

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18-50 Segment 2: Tips and Tricks for Holiday Cooking Success

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Cooking for holiday parties can be a major source of stress. We have big groups at our house for hours at a time, and you want to impress them with your culinary skills. But some of us don’t really have many culinary skills. We talk to Julia Turshen for some insight into how to impress with our holiday cooking this season.

Guests:

  • Julia Turshen, author of Small Victories: Recipes, advice + hundreds of ideas for home cooking triumphs

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Culture Crash 18-50: A look ahead at the movies set to dominate awards season

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in entertainment.

Awards season is officially upon us. The Golden Globes have already announced their nominees, which are as questionable as always. Year-end lists are being finalized, and Oscar buzz is reaching a roar for some contenders. But now is also the time when many of these movies are being released in the first place. So, here’s a guide of what to keep an eye out for to get ahead of the nominee pool.

A Star Is Born and First Man are two contenders that have already spent some time in theaters. While First Man has begun to fade a bit and failed to generate much interest from the Hollywood Foreign Press, it did grab a nom for Claire Foy. And, it would be a minor shock if she and Ryan Gosling were both shut out of the actor races at the Oscars, while the film is still strongly in the mix for Best Picture. Of course, A Star Is Born may be the centerpiece of this year’s field- with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga poised to each receive multiple nominations. Cooper for acting, writing, and directing; And Gaga for acting and songwriting.

Beyond those, Barry Jenkins has released his follow-up to Moonlight with If Beale Street Could Talk. A wonderful adaptation of the James Baldwin novel, the film expertly uses lighting and cinematography to celebrate black love… and to tell the heart-wrenching and familiar tale of a corrupt criminal justice system. The Favourite is another strong contender this year. Its trio of actresses- Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz have garnered a lot of attention for their roles in this comedic take on the royal period piece that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. And Netflix’s big swing this year comes in the form of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, a Spanish-language film that is inspired by Cuaron’s own childhood in Mexico City. Roma is in a limited number of theaters and is now streaming on Netflix.

Of course, there are other contenders as well. BlacKkKlansman and Eighth Grade are streaming on-demand. Black Panther is on Netflix. Adam McKay’s Vice will be released on Christmas, and other contenders like Widows, Can You Ever Forgive Me, and Green Book are all in theaters now.

It’s a busy time of year for all of us- and especially for the film community. The options are out there, and the time to stay in the loop for nomination season is now.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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18-49 Segment 1: The Need for Investigative Journalism

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Investigative journalism is a necessity in a democracy. Independent journalists putting in long hours to serve as watchdogs for our government can have long-lasting ramifications, just look at the impact Woodward and Bernstein made with their Watergate investigations. We talk to one expert about the current state of investigative journalism in America and what can be done to ensure the watchdogs stay in business.

Guest:

  • James Hamilton, Hearst professor of communications at Stanford University and author, Democracy’s Detectives: The economics of investigative journalism

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18-49 Segment 2: Winter Reads for 2018

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It’s getting cold outside, which means it’s time to cuddle up with some good books to pass the time. Or maybe you’re just on the prowl for some holiday gifts for the reader in your life. Either way, we have some options for what to read this winter.

Guests:

  • Ellen Keith, author, The Dutch Wife
  • Andrew Shaffer, author, Hope Never Dies: An Obama/Biden Mystery

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Culture Crash 18-49: The disappointing Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in entertainment.

Last month, JK Rowling’s Wizarding World saw its latest installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald be met with a low score on Rotten Tomatoes and countless disappointed Harry Potter fans across the globe.

Count me among them. Not since 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film totally bungled its source material has a Wizarding World installment felt so misguided. Crimes of Grindelwald isn’t quite as bad as Half-Blood Prince, but it is poorly paced and difficult to follow, even for those who have spent their entire childhoods learning the universe forward and backward.

Again, the keys to the kingdom were handed over to director David Yates, who has now made six installments of the Wizarding World’s film series. And again, Yates proved he isn’t really up to the task. Fantastic Beasts 2 is divided in too many directions, it introduces characters and then forgets them, fails to flesh out the details of the prison break scene, which is the film’s only great set piece, and lingers for too long on characters we struggle to understand fully acting in ways we can’t make sense of in scenes that are poorly staged. Yates seems uninterested in doing anything but filming the script, adding none of the flair or subtleties that Alfonso Cuaron brought to the Prisoner of Azkaban adaptation. In all, Crimes of Grindelwald manages to make a story about magic pretty boring. And that’s before I even get to the final twist in Crimes of Grindelwald, which I won’t spoil, but is either an outright lie, which would be a poor way to end a film, or a new detail that not only fails to pass a logic test, but retroactively diminishes the ending of the Harry Potter saga.

I get no joy out of disliking this movie. I went to the theater expecting to leave exhilarated and excited for more. After all, for over 11 years now, we fans have been clamoring for more of the Potter universe. I still dream of a new novel that covers the story of the original Order of the Phoenix. But we only want more because we expect stories of a similar high quality to the original series. Stories much, much better than the one we got in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Three more Fantastic Beasts movies are on their way, and us lifelong fans will surely be seeing them, despite our new hesitations. Hopefully, the filmmakers find a way to conjure up some new magic, and fast.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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18-48 Segment 1: Learning Math Simpler

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American students are way down the international list when it comes to math scores. Why is this? Is there something we could be doing to make learning math a simpler task? Our guests say yes, and have suggestions for kids- and adults- struggling to master mathematics.

Guests:

  • Bob Sun, inventor of The 24 Game and First in Math
  • Jason Wilkes, author, Burn Math Class: And reinvent mathematics for yourself

Links for more information:

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